Holidays and Feeding Disorders
Holiday season is very stressful. It is even more stressful for parents with children who have feeding disorders.
The holidays are a time to celebrate around food and socializing. It is also a time to get together with extended family. You may be dreading the comments from well intentioned family members about your child's eating habits. Your mother-in-law might comment on how skinny your child is. Your father might say "just make him sit there until he eats" not realizing that your child could be forced to sit there all day and they still wouldn't eat that food.
These fears around food and feeding your child can greatly impact how the holidays are for you.
What can you do this holiday season to make it less stress and more enjoyable for both you and your child?
Inform judgmental family members that 1 in 4 children have a feeding disorders. They are not being "picky" because they just don't want to eat, they truly do have a medical reason for being selective in the food items they eat. Maybe it's a sensory issue, or a GI issue, or an oral motor issue.
Pressure to eat is the enemy to mealtime joy. Sitting around a table eating Thanksgiving dinner is a time for laughing and catching up with family. Allow it to be just that for that one meal. You never know, with the pressure off, your kiddo might just trying something while you aren'y looking!
Let your child be part of the mealtime preparation. The more a child is exposed to a food item, even it is just smelling or touching it, the more likely they will be to actually try that food. You can't eat a food if it isn't offered to you. You can also do food activities such as using yogurt to paint with apple slices or building a forest scene with broccoli and carrots. If they feel like they can interact with food without feeling like they have to eat it, they will enjoy the food experience more.
If your child has a hard time chewing food items, get creative with how you prepare that food item. For example, if they can't eat a piece of turkey right from the over, then throw it in a crockpot until it is soft enough for them to eat. If pie crust is too hard to chew, use graham cracker crust so they can still enjoy the pie without the concern that they won't be able to chew and swallow
If your child does not eat anything by mouth and they don't mind being around food, have them sit at the table with you. Just because they are not eating, does not mean that they can't participate in the social part of the meal.
You are a boss parent and you know what is best for your child. Do not let anyone tell you otherwise. It is not your fault that your child has a feeding disorder and so not let anyone tell you otherwise.
We hope some of these tips were helpful! Have a Happy Halloween and wonderful holiday season.
If you ever need feeding therapy services, you know where to find us!