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Eating Around The Holidays: Picky Or Something More?

Holidays can bring a whirlwind of stress, especially at mealtimes. During these holiday meals you may wonder, “Is my child being ‘picky’ or is there something more going on?” ---

We use all of our senses to eat- tactile, auditory, smell, vision, and taste of course! It is more difficult than walking or talking, and it can affect us cognitively, socially, and physically. Woah! Is your mind blown like mine is?

3-5% of children have feeding disorders. What is a feeding disorder you may ask? Is it picky eating such as a child not trying a banana but they will eat strawberries, blueberries, etc.? Is it a medical issue meaning the child cannot safely swallow without food or liquid going into their lungs (aspiration)?

These are great thoughts; however, feeding disorders are defined as: a severe disruption to eating, drinking, or digestion that causes a child to not take in enough calories to maintain or increase their weight at an expected pace [(Source). ](● https://www.feedingmatters.org/)

Many types of feeding disorders exist. Children may present with one or more of the following**:

  • Difficulty with textures (e.g., applesauce, tapioca pudding, jello)
  • Refusing certain food groups (e.g. only eating carbs, refusing vegetables)
  • Refusing solid foods or liquids
  • Having a limited variety of less than 20 different foods in their diet
  • Throwing tantrums at mealtimes
  • Choking or gagging at mealtimes
  • Oral motor and sensory problems (e.g. inadequate lip closure or chewing on one side of mouth only, poor tongue control, etc.)
  • Gastrostomy (g-tube) or nasogastric (ng-tube) dependence

If my child is presenting with any of the following listed above, what should I do?

  1. First and foremost, recognize that YOU did an awesome job recognizing the signs to seek out services!
  2. Contact a feeding therapy provider in your area. CI Pediatric Therapy Centers provides consultations at all of our locations, which include Fitchburg, Middleton, Sun Prairie, Verona, Janesville, or Waunakee.
  3. Partake in a feeding evaluation with a multidisciplinary team (e.g., pediatrician, speech-language pathologist, occupational therapist, etc.) to determine if services are warranted.
  4. Begin the journey with your child! Feeding therapy is not an overnight fix, but a process that has an incredible impact on your child’s emotional and physical wellbeing. Treatment approaches include individualized therapy or a peer therapy approach. Each child is different, and your multidisciplinary team will work with you to find the best fit for you and your child.

Written By: Tiffany Smith, MA, CCC-SLP

Eating Around The Holidays: Picky Or Something More?
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