Often times, feeding aversions arise from negative experiences; these negative experiences may be the result of pain, sensory, or motor complications. Therefore, it is important to approach meal time in a way that does not create additional defensive behaviors.
All foods should be introduced gradually, in a way that makes the individual feel safe. Building trust during meal-time may be a slow-process, but it is not to be rushed.
Meal-time can be safe and fun! A game like Candy Land can be used to introduce feeding steps to a child. When a child picks a card, they attempt to complete the task associated with the color they chose. (See below for an example)
Yellow– Take a break
Green– You Choose
Don’t have Candy Land? Need something more portable? No problem! This concept may be used with many games or home-made cards that have colors, numbers, or symbols that can be assigned a “feeding step”.
As a child becomes more comfortable with a food, add additional steps such as, “bite” and “chew”.
SLP-TIP: Be sure to take turns! Participating in the “food-fun” will take the focus off of the child and show that the target food is safe and enjoyable.
Lisamarie Ricigliano M.S., CF-SLP, TSSLD