Successfully Feeding a "Picky" Eater
Last week, I highlighted a family who I currently work with who is struggling to feed their two-year-old little girl. Please refer to previous posts for details regarding the history of this case
and a list of some of the common pitfalls
that plague their daily mealtimes. Today's post is a continuation of their story.
When I first approach a new feeding case, I observe the child during mealtime to see what is happening. From there, I ask questions and make various suggestions and do my best to implement change where necessary. After the observation piece is over, I either join the parent in the feeding or I briefly grab the reins and ask the parent to observe the modeled techniques, which is what I did at our last session.
Here are the details from our most recent session:
At the beginning of my most recent session with this little girl she started screaming as soon as she was put in her high chair which is her typical behavior. Because of this, her grandma and I began with something familiar that she loves - a vanilla smoothie in her sippy cup. However, instead of simply handing her a ready made drink, she took part in making the drink. With our instruction and assistance, she opened her cup, poured in the packet of vanilla powder, added the milk and shook everything together. Then, she was allowed to enjoy what she made and have a big sip of her favorite drink, a reward for being a good listener!
By this point in the session, she was completely engaged and enjoying mealtime. Next, we decided to introduce a food she was familiar with and will usually eat. One piece of pancake was placed on her tray, so as not to overwhelm her. On the day of therapy, she was given the opportunity first to voluntarily eat it. This did not happen. She began screaming once again. So, I took away her prized sippy cup and calmly said, "Eat the pancake, and you can have your drink". She kept screaming for a few minutes and I calmly repeated my statement 3-4 times and pointed to each item as I explained the proposal.
In the meantime, her grandma ate a few pieces and pretended to feed some pancake to her favorite Dora doll. After a few minutes, she stopped crying and ate the piece of pancake. I immediately rewarded her with a smile, a "Good Job, you ate your pancake" and a "Now you can have a sip" and handed her the sippy cup.
Things continued on from there in this repetitive and predictable pattern that let her know, IF she ate the pancake, THEN she could have her smoothie. Eventually, she just began eating the pancake and ended up eating the whole plate voluntarily without needing the smoothie as incentive. I believe this technique worked because she was genuinely hungry, was familiar with the food and knew what to expect at every moment.
Overall it was an excellent session and helped to give the child and her grandma some confidence and a fresh perspective on mealtime.
This Friday's post will pinpoint a list of techniques that can be used when feeding a "picky" eater!