By Jamie Williams @nourished.babes
Our fussy eaters, more affectionately known as our cautious eaters, can keep any parent awake at night with worry. We all have that fear that our little one may not be getting what they need to grow and develop typically. It's important that we do not blame ourselves - it is no one's fault. There is so much information available and a large amount of it is misleading and unhelpful.
We don't seem to have access to information that describes typical eating and feeding development. Often understanding "why" and "when" your little will go through typical fussy phases can help their feeding journey by giving parents the confidence to navigate these periods.
Ellyn Satter's Division of Responsibility is a wonderful foundation to base your feeding journey on. The "how" children are fed is key to "what" they eat. We need to focus on reducing anxiety and power struggles at the dinner table and make it a place of joy and trust. Children learn through play and we shouldn't leave this out of our mealtimes. We need to bring playfulness into our interactions with food and our mealtimes. While these approaches are wonderful for all families and maybe enough given time, if a little one presents with feeding red flags, often we need to investigate further. Speech Pathologists, Occupational therapists, Dietitians, Physiotherapists as well as Gastroenterologists, ENTs, Paediatricians etc all work with children with feeding difficulties. Feeding difficulties can be because of an underlying sensory, medical, structural, behavioural and/or environmental issue.
If you are concerned about your child's feeding, answering yes to any of the following red flags would indicate that an assessment with a feeding therapist would be worth-while:
choking and frequent coughing
recurrent chest infections
difficulty transitioning through food textures
discomfort (pain) during/after mealtimes
poor weight gain or weight loss
avoids foods with a specific texture or from a certain food group
less than 20 foods and loses foods without adding more in
unhappy or stressful mealtimes
If you're concerned, it may be worth-while keeping track of the foods your little one eats (PDF attached to this blog post help you with this).
To learn more, follow Jamie at @nourished.babes on instagram.