Mealtimes can be a great time for family to come together to enjoy food and swap stories. However, for many parents, mealtimes can often mean struggles and stress with seemingly no solutions. For parents of “picky eaters”, mealtimes can be difficult to manage. Setting up an optimal atmosphere and environment for both children and parents can be very helpful in the first steps towards a successful mealtime routine.
Here are some expert “tips and tricks” to set up for mealtime success in your family:
Try to establish clear and consistent routines and expectations around mealtimes (i.e. designated seat, own utensils and cup).
Try to provide consistent modelling of mealtimes (i.e. eating with family).
Attempt to establish a stress-free environment. Never force to take a bite, rather gentle “exposure” is key.
Allow an opportunity for kids to get messy at times, while exploring foods and textures.
Mealtime can be stressful for picky eaters. Have fun, keep mealtime discussions light and relaxed.
If you feel your child is a “picky eater” and have further concerns, you can contact an Occupational Therapist for assessment of feeding, oral motor skills and sensory needs that may impact eating. The OT can help set up an appropriate program to target your goals.
Donna Legge-Nevett is a Fergus Occupational Therapist who graduated from American International College in 2000 with a Bachelor of Science in Occupational Therapy, with academic Cum Laude distinction. Donna is a member of the College of Occupational Therapists of Ontario, as well as the Canadian Association of Occupational Therapists.