Beyond the Picky Eater!
My son was recently diagnosed with a SPD- sensory processing disorder. We’ve know for a very long time that our son was always a little left to center compared to other kids and while working with his speech therapist we got hooked up with an occupational therapist who helped us pin point exactly what it was. I won’t go into too many details right now about that, but the best way to put it is that our son is ‘quirky’. SPD falls under the same umbrella as Autism and like Autism there is a huge spectrum where people can be affected. My son is on the edge of all this but he has very obvious SPD tendencies which can sometimes make parenting him a challenge. One of our biggest parenting challenges with him has been eating. While working with our OT we have come up with a great eating cycle and I wanted to share it with you.
I know for a fact that we are not the only people on this planet who have ‘exceptionally picky eaters’. It’s extremely frustrating as you’ll often hear things like “make them sit there until they finish!” or “you need to be the parent, they are just manipulating you!” or “send him to bed with no dinner, he’ll figure it out when he’s hungry enough”. Well, I’m here to comfort all our friends who are in this situation that these ideas are just not an option with kiddos like ours.
After many nights of me crying and him screaming we finally found a solution that works for us! We have gone from literally 3 different things that my son would eat to him being willing to TRY almost anything! What a great accomplishment. Some kids make it a bit simpler on us parents and have a trend of textures or flavors they love or hate. My son was not at all like that. He could woof down some chips and jello in the same sitting and not bat an eyelash, but then two weeks later vomit over the sight of the same meal.
Our regiment started about 4 weeks ago. First, my son is served whatever we are eating (as he ALWAYS has been) and we start by asking my son to smell his food. Once we get him to smell it a few times then we ask him if he will kiss his food. He just thinks this is super fun and silly and it makes his sister laugh! We make a fun big deal out of this. The point of kissing the food is to just get it on your lips and get a feel for it.
After we’re comfortable with that, we move onto licking our food. This one usually takes a bit more convincing as he knows he’s going to have to taste it. 90% of the time we get a “Mama! I like it!” which will then prompt the final step of taking a polite bite. This is a slow work in progress. Our OT (occupational therapist) actually recommend that we take it extra slow and start with a week or so of just smelling, then a week of kissing and so on. Our son actually took to it MUCH better than we ever expected and your kiddos might also. We were also going to start a sticker chart but never needed it. Our son was going to get a sticker every time he tried something and then get a prize but he accepted this whole thing better than we ever expected. This is a great way to introduce new foods, new textures, new colors, new tastes and whole new meals.
Remember this is not necessarily for everyone but if you’re like us and have tried every other option to convince your kids that food is okay, this one might be for you.