Firstly, we are all sat around the table, as most families are. It is important to remember that food and meal times is very important to us as people, and as lives get more busy, the times people sit down to eat a meal together is disappearing. Fast food eaten in front of the television, children being fed earlier and adults eating later, and also being fed different things. We tend to feed our children what we label "kid food" - because we know they will eat it. This consists of chicken nuggets, sausages, pasta, rice, etc etc. While us adults dine on our steak, salad, delicious pasta, stir fries ec etc. Even myself is guilty of this - James is at the fussy food stage and I know he will eat chicken nuggets and sausages and noodles until they come out of his ears. My way of thinking was - well I already had one child that does not eat, I will feed James what I know he will eat. He always gets offered veg and meat and whatever we are having, but does not eat it. But he eats lots of fruit, drinks milk and cheese - and I am not worried. He is a healthy, active little man, so why battle with him. All kids are fussy at some stage, and they will grow out of it. But anyways, what we were doing was not wrong, but we were pandering to James, and the way Emma is definitely influenced our feeding techniques. Jasper is just fine. A happy chappy who eats everything you put in front of him.
So now we are learning a completely new way of feeding the 'family' and Andy and I are learning new ways to tackle the fussiness of children's appetites and start instilling proper food and eating habits and routines in our home.
One of the main things to remember is, when the children sit down to eat or drink at snack time, make sure they are seated correctly. As we have learnt early on, if a child is not sitting properly, they struggle with feeding themselves.
Another important thing to try and do is at least once a day to have a sit down family meal. I am sure that ALL of us are guilty of not doing that at some time. There is always something that gets in the way, we are too busy, too tired, kids are grumpy whatever. But it is very important that it does happen once a day. Of course, sometimes it is just not possible due to work committments, but you just do the best you can.
At this meal,everyone gets two plates. A dinner plate and a learning plate. Dont forget a napkin or face washer to allow children to clean their hands and get rid of anything that makes them uncomfortable. Next, all the food for the meal is to be placed in the middle of the table. The next process is to pass the food around and make sure everyone gets a bit of everything. Whether it goes on their main plate, or learning plate it does not matter.
|Emma's plate and learning plate|
|My plate and learning plate|
|One of Emma's coping techniques - her learning plate is covered with a napkin to shield her eyes|
One thing I did not know... serving size for children = 1 tablespoon per year of age. :-)
After all the food has been distributed, everyone eats, and we have to allow the children to feed themselves for at least the first ten minutes. They encourage us adults to talk about the food and make exaggerated chewing movements... haha.. bit of giggling here...
After ten or so minutes, after the children have started to slow down, time to move from the dinner plate to the learning plate. Talk about the food on the learning plate. What colour is it, is it soft, hard, smooth, bumpy, can you touch, pick up, is it hot or cold, see what you can do about it.
One thing to do... and we find it difficult sometimes, is that at the end of the meal, if the child has not eaten enough, dont push it. Be positive with them to make sure they have eaten their fill, but dont push the issue.
Then clean up. Let the children help throw all the food in the bin. Food rockets if they want, throw, toss, spit, whatever you want to do and what the child can tolerate. Emma normally wants it gone as soon as possible.
I will put up a therapy meal plan and key phrases to help. But this is what our feeding as a family looks like. We do this once a day, and a the clinic we do it once a week. Our next family therapy session is next Wednesday. :)