Engage During Mealtime
09 Dec 2022
Mealtime can be challenging in so many ways. Take the stress out of mealtime by making food fun! Starting a positive routine around mealtime can allow everyone to feel more comfortable and allow for natural communication opportunities and sensory play. Here are some tips and ideas for creating an enjoyable environment while incorporating the entire family.
- Establishing times throughout the day for snacks and mealtimes will create consistent and predictable routines for a child. Think about what routines are important before and after eating. Every child is unique, and some children might benefit from sensory input (i.e., going on a walk, jumping jacks, heavy input) or participating in deep breathing exercises or other forms of relaxing activities before sitting down. Afterward, have your child partake in cleaning their plate and washing their hands.
- Have Your Child to Help Out
- Encourage your child to participate in meal preparation. Not only does this expose your child to different foods but starts to establish independence and self-help skills.
- Endless Communication Opportunities
- Give a small portion to encourage your child to ask for more food, all done, or they need a drink
- Use descriptive language to talk about the foods you and your child are eating (i.e., “this strawberry is red” or “my applesauce tastes sweet”).
- This is also a great time to discuss how your day was or how your child’s day was!
- Trying New Foods
- When a new food is brought to the table follow these steps to help your child to feel comfortable and allow them to set the pace.
- Tolerate: The food is tolerated in the room, on the table, then on their plate.
- Touch: Your child feels comfortable touching the food. Whether it’s moving it off their plate or exploring a new texture. This is a great opportunity to incorporate descriptive language (i.e., Does it feel bumpy? Soft? Dry? Hard? Cold?)
- Smell: Incorporating different senses can allow your child to prepare what the food might taste like or associate it with something else they also already enjoy.
- Bring to mouth/kiss: Once your kid is confident with touching and holding the food, allowing them to bring the food to their mouth or touching the food to their lips gives the child the opportunity to control how much they taste when they are ready.
- Taste: Accepting a new food is an exciting experience for everyone. Having a positive experience with foods is key to creating a good relationship with mealtime and trusting when other new foods are introduced.
- Most importantly- Have FUN!
- Have the whole family sit and eat together
- Modeling or set an example by trying new food or eating the same as your child
- Get creative with mealtime
Mariposa Therapy Services offers a variety of pediatric therapy services, including occupational, speech, and physical therapy. If you’d like to learn more about our services, contact Mariposa Therapy Services at 480-374-4341.