January 3, 2015

Does your child have trouble eating?

Meal Environment

For children with feeding and swallowing concerns, we can support their needs with the mealtime environment we create. Families can feel empowered, knowing they have the tools to support their child for meals. When planning for mealtimes, there are several components of the environment that can be stylized to accommodate a child’s needs:

  1. Develop a predictable routine. Have a designated time and place where your family eats. Make sure there is a clear beginning and end to meals.
  2. Eat together. Parents are the best models for their children. By eating meals together,  parents show their child what is expected of them during mealtimes.
  3. Length of time. Consider how long meals take, so a child isn’t spending too much or too little time at the table. Keep meals between 20 and 30 minutes.
  4. Reduce distractions. Excess noise and movement can bring the focus away from mealtime. Is the TV on? Is a pet running around the table? If possible, try to remove these distractions.
  5. Supportive chair. Make sure your child is in a chair that supports their motor skills and keeps
    them safe. Use a chair that provides support for their feet, or place a stool under their feet to provide support.
  6. Make it fun. For families of children with feeding difficulties, meal times can be stressful. Stress is hard on the parents and the children, and the stress can often intensify a child’s feeding difficulties. Bring mealtime back to a time where the family can interact and spend time together.
Finding a therapist that has experience in feeding and swallowing disorders is also important to guide the need for assessments and further recommendations.

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