Tips To Help Your Kids With Holiday Eating

5 Tips To Help Your Kids With Holiday Eating

By Cindy Morrison, M.S., CCC-SLP, CLC

Holiday mealtimes have arrived and it’s go time for kids! While many families enjoy relaxed, low pressure holiday meals, others prefer a more formal affair. Regardless of your family’s style, holiday meals with the people that you love are the ultimate gift. As I prepare my children for the tables full of family, friends and lots of mealtime choices ahead, I keep in mind that holiday meals work best when we balance our priorities.

Here are Five Tips To Help Your Kids With Holiday Eating.

#1 – Get the Good Stuff in Early. The excitement of being with family and friends combined with all the holiday decorations and menu changes distracts children from eating well. Start your day right by getting the good stuff in early.  A healthy breakfast such as a vegetable quiche or eggs prepared their favorite way with a side of avocado or your choice of veggies will start the day off right. Knowing that you’ve gotten in healthy foods earlier in the day takes the pressure off of you and your children later, so that you can relax and all enjoy time with family without scrutinizing mealtime choices.

#2 – Pack a few familiar things from home. A big challenge over holidays is that there are a lot of changes. As adults, we love that the best dishes come out and that family is coming together, but for some kids the change to their usual routine can be overwhelming. If you have a younger child, a child with special needs or a picky eater, packing a few familiar items from home can make all the difference. Allowing them to choose a placement, plate, bowl, utensil or cup to bring along can help ease their transition to the table. If you have a child who struggles with mealtimes on ordinary days, it’s okay to serve or pack a familiar food choice to add to their holiday plate. Many children require multiple exposures to new foods before they will feel comfortable eating them. Holiday meals often have food choices that look unfamiliar to children and this can and does cause feeding refusals. Rather than struggle, meet your kids half way and remember that the reason for the meal is really about coming together to be with family.

#3 – Snack attack (avoid the post sugar melt downs). Holiday gatherings are notorious for lots of pre-mealtime snacking. If you’d rather avoid peeling your child off the floor after the sugar-high meltdown, think strategically about their pre-meal snacking. It’s fine to loosen the reigns during the holidays and allow your children to snack. Just keep in mind that as they snack they are filling their calorie needs of the day and it will be normal for them to seem less interested in dinner. Maximize on their interest in snacking by offering a greater amount of healthier snack choices such as dips and veggies than sugary treats!

#4 -Let them know what to expect. Allowing children to see the mealtime foods and the holiday table before it’s time to sit down can make a big difference. Let them see what’s happening in the kitchen. Describe the colors they see and the way the food smells. Take a few walks to the dining room to look at where everyone will sit. Talk about what you see in the room and on the table. Maybe let them help you deliver something there. Taking a few moments to familiarize your children to the meal and the mealtime table while traveling can ease their transition so that everyone can enjoy sitting down to dinner.

#5 – Be flexible. If you notice that your child is struggling or not eating well during a holiday meal it’s important to be flexible instead of strict. Give them a big hug and acknowledge that this meal is different. Talk about what you see: holiday decorations, fancy dishes, and most importantly, family joining together in love and celebration. Teach them about the most important parts of the day, like slowing down to talk, laugh and listen.  Remind them to memorize the faces, the laughs and the smiles of the people you love. Holidays pass by so quickly, so hold onto every moment of your family.

Happy, Healthy Holidays!

Are you ready for happier and more colorful mealtimes? Happy Eating Club is enrolling now. The next round is just in time to help you survive holiday mealtimes! Join us Janurary 9th. Use promo code: chewchew20 to save 20%.

Top Holiday Gifts For Picky Eaters

Here are my picks for the Top Holiday Gifts for picky eaters this year!  

Let the magic of holiday gift giving help your mealtimes all year long.  Promoting healthy eating is something that should be encouraged in small ways throughout daily routines and across settings and most of all, it should be fun!

Rainbow Innovations Today I Ate A Rainbow Kit

I absolutely L-O-V-E this toy!  My new friend, Kia, did an amazing job creating a product that actually gets kids excited about eating colors.  I’ve recommended Today I Ate A Rainbow to parents for years and I happily use it in my own home as well.  My boys love keeping track of the colors they’ve eaten and enjoy eating a rainbow every day.   Want one for your home?  Use coupon code: chewchew10

Holiday Gifts For Picky Eater


Glob All Natural Paint Pigment Packets, Set of 6 Colors

Have a budding artist at home?  Check out these natural paints that are made from fruit and vegetables! Are these fun or what? Pair these with a few homemade vegetable stamps and create a beautiful gallery.  Invite me to the opening!

Holiday Gifts For Picky Eaters

Learning Resources Farmers Market Color Sorting Set

I love this color sorting set.  What a wonderful way to reinforce the importance of a variety of colorful foods through play!  Color sort, sort by size, length or shape and then get creative with your pretend play!  Y-U-M!

Holiday Gifts For Picky Eaters

Fruitominoes – Teal

If you’re going to play dominos, why look at plain old dots when you could be looking at the bright and beautiful colors of healthy food!


Holiday Gifts For Picky Eaters



Mudpuppy Wooden Magnetic Fruits and Vegetables

I think these fruit and vegetable magnets are adorable and perfect for pulling out for all the snow days ahead.  Let your kids plant a garden on the refrigerator when the cold weather keeps you inside.  Use these fruits & veggies magnets to make art, build letters or shapes.  Let your imagination go wild!

Holiday Gifts For Picky Eaters


Barbecue Party Game

Here’s a fun game to get your kids cooking!  Let them grill up vegetables and serve them with a side of giggles as they try to beat this silly, popping grill!

Holiday Gifts For Picky Eaters

Prepared Slide Kit – Vegetables

Microscope slides for your little (or big!) scientist!  Get up close and personal learning about food without having to eat it.  Let yourself and your kids be amazed at viewing the details of healthy foods.

Holiday Gifts For Picky Eaters

Petit Collage Nesting Blocks, Fruits and Veggies

Have a little one?  Help them build a tower full of color, fruits & veggies!  These sweet colorful blocks teach numbers, shapes and counting too.

Holiday Gifts For Picky Eaters

ALEX Toys – Bathtime Fun, Tub Soup, 801W

Rub-a-dub-dub, there are veggies in the tub!  That’s right!  You can even reinforce the importance of fruit and veggies during bath time.  Let your little ones have fun stirring, mixing, pouring and creating a wonderful vegetable soup in the tub!

Holiday Gifts For Picky Eaters

Vegetable Garden Playing Cards

They really do think of everything, don’t they?  Check out these vegetable playing cards?  How fun would a game of GO FISH be with these cards?  Do you have asparagus? (No, Go Fish or perhaps Go To The Garden?!)

Holiday Gifts For Picky Eaters


Slamwich Collector’s Edition Tin

This is such a fun game!  You can expect lots of giggling as your family spends quality time flipping cards to build silly sandwiches!  “Slamwich teaches reading readiness skills, like visual discrimination and sequencing. While kids are flipping and stacking cards, they’re actually learning how to recognize a series, make combinations, and anticipate what might happen.”

Holiday Gifts For Picky Eaters

Peaceable Kingdom / Feed the Woozle Award Winning Preschool Skills Builder Game

This game will get your family doing the hula dance, the bunny hop, marching or going crazy trying to feed the woozle!  What’s better than a feeding game that gets children moving at the same time? Nothing!

Holiday Gifts For Picky Eaters

Chameleon Crunch Game

I love this chameleon game!  This little guy races around your house and challenges your kids to chase him and feed him a variety of colorful foods.  Not only does it get your kids moving; it’s adorable.  This is a great game to play and also reference at the dinner table – “let’s eat lots of colors tonight like the chameleon!”
Holiday Gifts For Picky Eaters

Sushi Go! – The Pick and Pass Card Game

As someone that loves both sushi and originality, I had to share this fun game!  Gain points for making the most maki rolls or for collecting a full set of sashimi.  Chopsticks optional!

Holiday Gifts For Picky Eaters

Happy Eating Club

Give your family the gift of happier mealtimes all year long! Join Happy Eating Club, a virtual coaching program for parents of picky eaters available January 9th! Limited enrollment! Claim your spot and save 20% using coupon code: chewchewmama


Holiday Gifts For Picky Eaters

Healthy Holiday Snacks Your Kids Will Love

Christmas Tree Fruit

Has your social calendar exploded yet?

This time of year, every where you turn is another opportunity to nosh on wonderful, fun and delicious snacks and foods, but I can’t help but see the irony in holiday meal planning.  Can you?  We spend so much time planning and preparing large and elaborate meals, but then we sabotage those meals by offering LOTS of snacking on sweets!

Here are my favorite, healthy, holiday snack options to counter the urge to indulge on junk food this year. You can find more fun ideas on my Pinterest boards by clicking here.

Chilly Penguins

Oh my goodness these are adorable!  What I fun way to get in some veggies, good fats and a little protein, right?  The creator of these adorable little penguins used cream cheese, but we plan to try these using bocconcini (small mozzarella).



I love this sweet sammie from Canadian Family and Disney Family!  Your choice of sandwich with veggies and fruit added right in along with those olives again.  How’s that for multiple exposures?!




Fruit & Veggie Christmas Trees

I’m a big fan of making food cute, but keeping it easy.  These adorable trees by Mama Papa Bubba and Mom Endeavors does both!  Working on adding the color green?  Here’s a way to do it sweetly!




Veggie Christmas Wreath

Seriously the easiest and cutest way to make a plate full of veggies adorable! The pepper ribbon is my favorite part. Just add dip and watch this disappear.  Another great idea from Super Healthy Kids!


Hard Boiled Snowmen

These fun little snowmen created by Crafts A La Mode are adorable and easy enough for your kids to put together!


Christmas Fruit & Cheese 

Fun, easy and cute!  Who wouldn’t love to set their eyes upon this healthy snack from Kraft Canada? Certainly not me!


Snowman Cheese Ball (or snow ball!)

This little snowman from Crafts A La Mode is SO cute that he’ll almost be hard to eat.  The only change we plan to make is to lose the crackers and replaced them with veggies and toasted pita chips.


Watermelon Trees

Simple and sweet with a perfect built in handle for little hands!  I love this idea from Eating Vibrantly!


Snowmen kabobs

Bananas, apples and grapes – oh my!  What a creative healthy snack from Family Disney. Another great snack that your kids can help you build.



Christmas Tree Pizza

I’ve said it before and i’ll say it again, “wouldn’t it be amazing if children learned from the very first presentation that all pizza comes with vegetables?”  I love veggie pizza!  Get your family decorating these trees and then chomping them down!


Frozen Veggie Tray

I couldn’t resist including this adorable Frozen tray by Super Healthy Kids.  “Do you want to build a snowman?”


Pita Tree Snacks

These cute trees by Live Better America had me a guacamole!  The tree “decorating” options are endless.


Chocolate Dipped Clementines

Last but not least here’s our favorite sweet treat, because after all it’s all about balance, right? Of course it is!  Teaching kids where sweets fit in is all part of building a happy, healthy eater!


Happy Holidays!

Do you have a picky eater? Are you tired of battles or straight up refusals at mealtimes?  Do you want help from an expert in the field?

Get the support you need in the New Year with Happy Eating Club!

Enroll now using discount code “chewchew30” to save 30%. Limited spots available.

Ending Mealtime Frustration: One Family’s Journey In Happy Eating Club

Happy Eating Club

Today as I prepare the Happy Eating Club House to open tomorrow, I found myself reflecting on a heart-to-heart with a wonderful mom named Teresa, who participated in Happy Eating Club for her oldest son and carries it forward for her youngest.  Teresa and I discussed her experience in the program and where her family is now, in their feeding journey as they consistently utilize the information, strategies and resources she gained in Happy Eating Club.

Happy Eating Club is a flexible 14-day program available online with access around the clock and around the globe to meet the needs of today’s busy parents. Happy Eating Club pairs access to a nationally certified pediatric feeding therapist with educational resources and support. Happy Eating Club redefines mealtimes and for Teresa and her sweet family, it has done just that.

Why did you join the program? 
I had been following Chew Chew Mama on Facebook and receiving her blog updates for a while. I was always impressed by the information she shared and was constantly learning from her. When I saw an opportunity to not only learn more but also have access to her to answer feeding questions specific to my family, I jumped at the opportunity! I have two boys–a seven year old with sensory issues and a three-year-old who used to be a pretty adventurous eater, but then turned pickier possibly from the influence of his older brother.

They were both eating some healthy things like fresh fruit, but other things were missing from their diets altogether and were a struggle, especially vegetables. My boys would literally scream if anything green was placed on their plates! I felt like I was running a diner, because everybody was eating something different at mealtimes. I was exhausted! I was hopeful that the Happy Eating Club would be the answer to my prayers–and it was exactly that!

How soon did you start to implement Happy Eating Club strategies and see changes? 
Some things I implemented right away, for example, I learned to get my kids involved in mealtime preparation and empowered them to be kitchen helpers. I was excited at how eager they were to be involved and I was surprised to learn that the real reason I should be involving them had nothing to do with the food. Happy Eating Club taught me how to make food fun for my family without hiding healthy foods.


Using strategies that I’ve learned in Happy Eating Club, I am happy to say that green vegetables are no longer the struggle they once were. At first I was nervous offering green choices that would typically have made both of my children scream and run away, but I implemented what I learned and I was completely shocked by the big smiles on their faces.  They were literally begging for more and my son even pulled asparagus off his father’s place to eat.  I’m still in awe at the change.

Some strategies are taking more time and repetition to master and I haven’t used all the tools in my Happy Eating Club toolbox yet, but I feel confident knowing that I have the best tools now and I like that we can take our time making gradual changes rather than rushing our boys.


The biggest change for all of us is that mealtime is now more relaxing for everyone. I don’t feel the need to be a short order cook anymore. I prepare the same balanced meal for everyone and then we sit down at the table as family. I don’t take mealtimes as personally anymore; I’m not stressed and my children are responding to that. They sit at the table longer, they are willing to try more foods and they will tolerate something new and green on their plates–my three-year old even gobbled down peas last night! Happy Eating Club has made our family mealtimes an enjoyable experience…something I truly never thought I would be able to say.

Did you find flexibility of Happy Eating Club to be valuable to you? 
Yes! I was nervous making a committment at first to Happy Eating Club because my life is so busy and often unpredictable with the kids.  Once I joined and the program began, I learned that it truly is self-paced. There were some days where I was able to listen to a couple different podcasts and other days where I couldn’t even find the time to login to the clubhouse. It didn’t matter–the podcasts and materials were there and waiting for me whenever I could find the time–a wonderful thing for a busy care giver!

Are program materials helpful to you?
The materials are wonderful!  The materials are helpful and really tied together the information I was learning in the podcasts.  I still have access to the clubhouse, but I’ve printed out all of the Happy Eating Club materials and find myself referring to them often.

Did Happy Eating Club provide opportunities to get individualized answers to questions that you had specifically about your children?
Absolutely!!! This is one of the best things about the Happy Eating Club–access to a nationally certified, experienced and caring pediatric feeding therapist!  Several times I wrote a question before going to bed and would wake up in the morning to a thorough, detailed, personal response waiting for me.  I couldn’t believe how quickly Cindy was able to get back to me (as well as all the other clubhouse members) and with such thoughtful answers. Truly amazing!

Would you recommend the program to other families?
Yes! Happy Eating Club has been an amazing experience for my family and I highly encourage anyone with a picky eater to take advantage of this great opportunity! You learn so much in two weeks at your own pace (perfect for busy parents and caregivers!) You receive an incredible amount of information ranging from how to add healthier foods into your child’s diet to the real reasons why kids refuse food.  You get unlimited access to the information and printable program materials to use as daily reference guides.

Best of all, you have access to a fantastic pediatric feeding therapist who is there for you every step of the way. Cindy teaches you, supports you, answers specific questions about your family, and cheers you on –every step, every change is a big victory for you and for your children. Cindy is a warm, caring, professional who is extremely knowledgeable and genuine. She has given me the tools to make our family mealtimes a happy and healthy time and I am forever grateful to Chew Chew Mama! Let her do the same for you!

Are you ready for better mealtimes?  

The next round of Happy Eating Club is enrolling now just in time for back to school!  Register now and use promo code: chewchew30 to save 30%.

Happy Eating Club ReviewTeresa is a proud wife, mother of two boys and an Executive Consultant with Rodan and Fields. She spends her days playing superheroes and hiding from dinosaurs with her busy little boys, and loves great talks with friends.

End Mealtime Battles With Happy Eating Club

Happy Eating Club

Today I had the pleasure of connecting with a wonderful mom, Kirsten, who participated in Happy Eating Club last year and still uses what she learned with her family. Kirsten and I discussed her experience in the program and where her family is now, almost a year later, in their feeding journey as they consistently utilize the information, strategies and resources she gained in Happy Eating Club.

Happy Eating Club is a flexible 14-day program available online with access around the clock and around the globe to meet the needs of today’s busy parents. Happy Eating Club pairs access to a nationally certified pediatric feeding therapist with educational resources and support. Happy Eating Club redefines mealtimes and for Kirsten and her sweet family, it has done just that.

Why did you join the program?
I joined the program primarily because of my son who was three at the time. Meal times were becoming increasingly challenging as he would refuse most foods and eat only a handful of items consistently (cereal, fig bars, bunny crackers, smoothies, etc.). My oldest son was five and would eat most things, but usually would refuse any new food. My daughter was one and was a pretty good eater, but I wanted to learn strategies to help her continue to eat a variety of foods.

How soon did you start to implement Happy Eating Club strategies and see changes?
I implemented some of the strategies immediately! I was able to change my language at meal times right away- I no longer say “just take a bite.” It became less of a power struggle at meals by implementing the new strategies and changing the phrases I used with my three-year-old. I loved how practical the recommendations were and easy to try out.

With my oldest son I saw changes more quickly (after the learning the sensory strategy he ate an entire bowl of chili – something he had always refused before!) My three-year-old son took a few weeks to adjust to some of the strategies we implemented (and we continue working on these strategies with him), but eventually became used to the new meal time expectations.

Did you find flexibility of Happy Eating Club to be valuable to you?
I loved the flexibility of the program! I was able to listen to the podcasts while putting away laundry or cleaning. I could go through the supplemental materials on my own time, and I still go back and reference notes and program materials. Being able to post on the discussion board to ask follow up questions after listening to the podcasts was invaluable.

Are program materials helpful to you?
They have been very helpful! It was great to have on-going, unlimited access to them and be able to print them off or go back to reference them. The materials covered a variety of topics and offered practical advice that has been easy to implement.

Did Happy Eating Club provide opportunities to get individualized answers to questions that you had specifically about your children?
Cindy was incredibly helpful in answering specific questions about my children. All three of my children have had speech services, and she was able to further explain how there can be a correlation between speech delays and sensory processing. She offered to watch a video clip of my youngest chewing and gave me specific tips to help further develop her chewing muscles. Almost a year later, I still have been able to contact her with questions and she has provided education for next steps.

Would you recommend the program to other families?
I would absolutely recommend this program to other families! I never knew how much more there was to picky eating and how it can be such a sensory experience. This program has been incredibly valuable for my family and for my own sanity at meal times!

Kirsten is a stay-at-home mom to three kids (Colton-6, Deacon-4, and Emme-2). She recently moved from Southern California to Minnesota for a new job opportunity for her husband Phil. While we miss our family and friends in California, we’re enjoying exploring our new community and training our new puppy Hank.

Are you ready for better mealtimes?

The next round of Happy Eating Club is enrolling now! Register now and use promo code: “back2school” to save 75%.


6 Questions To Ask Before Choosing A Picky Eating Course

6 Questions To Ask Before Choosing A Picky Eating CourseSince the launch of Happy Eating Club in 2014, a variety of picky eating course pop-ups have emerged on-line.  Some are being offered by licensed and credentialed health care professionals and some are being offered by popular, non-clinically experienced food bloggers selling meal plans. As new moms navigate through the marketing, it’s becoming a bit more confusing to determine which course to choose. Here are six top questions to ask when choosing a picky eating course.  These questions will empower you to learn not only about the philosophy of the teacher, but also give you a solid understanding of their advanced education, clinical experience, licensing and credentialing.

1. As a Speech Language Pathologist, what is the difference between mainstream responses to eating challenges to those you counsel during pediatric feeding therapy?

I’ve seen so many different mainstream responses to eating challenges in blogs and mom chat rooms, and that includes everything from sneaking in foods, “magic” fixes, all the way to sending children to bed hungry if they don’t eat. While research is clear that none of these methods work for children in the long term, that last one, as a pediatric feeding therapist and as a mother, breaks my heart.

I work with such a giant range of children struggling with eating that I offer a completely different vantage point from my experience. I understand that when children use behavioral refusals it is absolutely an indication that something else is going on at a deeper level, so my response is to look for the underlying problems and to clear them out of the way. Refusals can have a sensory component, a behavioral component, an environmental component OR a combination of all three. I talk about each of these areas in my program to empower families to make a real change!

When children qualify to see me one-on-one for feeding therapy it means that they have an exceptional need. Many times these children are struggling with mealtimes because of an additional diagnosis, musculature weakness or an extreme sensory sensitivity. For these children, their feeding therapy plans are always unique to their individual needs, however, all parents that see me one- on-one gain the bonus of a greater understanding of the complexity of pediatric feeding.

One important component that is always the same is the education provided for parents about feeding milestones, the complicated science of eating, common sabotages to mealtimes and strategies for guiding their child successfully through all of it. Happy Eating Club members get this education too.

2. A lot of parents struggle with children that refuse to eat healthy foods, in your experience, what is a common reason why this occurs?

There can be many causes behind feeding refusals and that makes figuring out what’s happening so cumbersome for parents. Our society places a great amount of attention and focus on the physical or gross motor milestones, like when a child rolls over, crawls or begins to walk, but unfortunately we give much less attention to natural feeding milestones that occur for children as well.

An important feeding milestone that all children experience is called Neophobia, meaning a fear of new foods. Children meet this milestone between the ages of 18 months to 3 years. Some children sail through this milestone easily, but for other children this milestone can be the beginning of long term refusals occurring at the table and plenty of frustration for their parents.

During this stage, children previously judged as “good eaters” begin to reject new food and may even refuse familiar foods they once enjoyed. Some evidence suggests that this is a combination of evolutionary protection paired with a psychological or behavioral component. In any case, it’s real and normal for your child to be experiencing this to some degree.

Neophobia is a developmental stage and really should not last a lifetime, but the way that parents react to these refusals will have either a positive or negative effect on their child’s relationship with food and how they move forward.

3. How does understanding feeding milestones affect a child’s eating habits?

Knowledge of feeding milestones and how to proactively meet them in a positive way is a complete game changer for families. When informed parents expect feeding milestones, like Neophobia, they are prepared when their child begins refusing foods. Since many parents believe that these natural developmental refusals are strictly behavioral, they handle these refusals with frustration and punishment. This creates negative experiences at the table and changes the parent-child relationship into one that is working against each other instead of one that’s working together.

Parents can avoid all of this by being prepared, expecting this behavior and understanding that their child has reached an important normal stage. Instead of offering punishment, they can instead offer their child more patience, temporarily lower their volume expectations of refused foods, involve their child in food activities across settings and continue to provide multiple exposures to a healthy variety of foods with a slower, more gradual approach.

4. We believe in positive parenting and don’t label our kids as picky eaters because such negative labeling can be more self-fulfilling than helpful. What are your thoughts on our philosophy?

I love your philosophy on labeling, because I couldn’t agree with you more. When a child has been labeled as a “picky” eater, you’ve defined their behavior and though not intentional, you’ve given them a verbal reason or excuse to refuse new or healthy foods moving forward. As a licensed Speech Language Pathologist, I can say without question that language is powerful. In fact, once parents gain a deeper understanding of how to use language to market food to their children, they can actually begin to transform refusals into new positive food trials or exposures.

Let me explain what I mean. When I have conversations with parents about healthy foods I often hear, “my daughter would never eat that” or “he’s so picky that I stopped trying new foods.” Where do parents go from there? They’ve closed the door on themselves.

For this reason, it is so rewarding to coach parents on changing the language they use about food with their kids. When parents tell me, “it’s not her favorite,” I immediately teach them to add “yet” to the end of that sentence. “It’s not her favorite, yet.”

One of the greatest things that I guide parents to teach their children is that the taste of food changes over time. This happens as we acquire a taste through multiple exposures, but it also happens for children as their taste buds continue to change and evolve as they grow. Instead of dreading offering multiple exposures, I teach parents to use them as a fun way of discovering if their child has gotten “big enough” to enjoy them. When a child tries a food and tells us that they “don’t like it,” our response should always be, “you don’t like it yet and that’s ok for now, but you are going to love it when you get bigger.”

They may not exactly love a food the first or second time, but maybe, just maybe the next time, they just might be “big enough.” Using this strategy dials into a child’s natural desire to be a “big” kid and keeps the door open to try foods again.

5. In Happy Eating Club, you talk about a sensory, behavioral approach to feeding. Can you give some real life context in what that might mean?

Absolutely. Many people believe that eating is easy and it’s really not. Eating is actually the most complex, physical task that human beings engage in and is the only human task which requires each of our organ systems and every muscle in our body to work in simultaneous coordination with all 8 of our sensory systems. As if that wasn’t already enough, additionally, external environmental sources influence how your child grows into eating.

Let’s talk a little deeper about just one of the eight senses – tactile or touch. Children need to explore their foods on the outside of their bodies to gain the tactile feedback needed to feel comfortable enough to place food into their mouths. They need permission to touch food, push it around a little, pick it up with their hands, feel the weight of it and the texture of it.

Touch is giving the body a message about what to expect when food is on it’s way to the mouth. Think about how much information we can gather about a food beforehand: Is the food…cold, crispy, crunchy, damp, dry, firm, fuzzy, gritty, hard, hot, icy, warm, moist, pulpy, rough, slimy, smooth, soft, steamy, sticky, tender, textured, thick, thin, tough, warm, waxy, wet, etc. This tactile information sends messages to our brains and helps prepare our bodies for the texture and temperature that we are about to experience.

Food experiences can feel different for children with every meal. If the first time you offered a food choice was right after it was steamed, stir fried or pureed versus the next time when you’ve prepared it differently (say chicken in a new sauce or paired with different vegetables) — from your child’s developmental perspective, that food is new again. Your children are learning NEW tastes all the time and this includes every time you offer a new combination of foods. Does this mean you can’t mix up your meal planning? Absolutely not! It just means that members of the Happy Eating Club are going to have a greater amount of tools and strategies to guide their child through each new combination, each change, each mealtime, each day.

6. What’s one tip you can give to parents to improve one of their children’s eating habits?

If I could reach every parent out there, I would want them to know that just like it takes time and support for a child to learn to ride a bike or learn read, children also need time and support to grow into loving healthy food. Building a happy, healthy eater is a continuous process. So much research supports that staying positive and avoiding struggles at the table in the early years is fundamental for building a child that makes good food choices for their entire lifetime.

Here is a quick tip that you can try tonight at dinner! If you notice your child has slowed down or isn’t focused on eating, instead of telling them to “eat,” try offering them a controlled choice. (i.e. Are you going to choose broccoli or chicken next? I can’t wait to see!”) When parents offer a controlled choice, it’s a win-win for everyone. Their child gets to feel empowered by making independent decisions about eating and the parents can relax knowing that since the controlled choice offered two healthy options, no matter what choice is made their child’s body is getting the nourishment it needs.

Lastly, I want parents to know that I recognize that since my launch of Happy Eating Club there are now several more options to consider at all different price points. I’m proud that Happy Eating Club offers families the support of a licensed and nationally certified pediatric feeding expert.  Feeding therapy is not about the food or the menu or one mom’s journey. It’s about your child’s body and mind’s response to the act of eating.

It’s about picking an expert that will know what to do for each unique child. There are well-educated, licensed and credentialed health care professionals that work exclusively in pediatric feeding. Parents that are really struggling with mealtimes should always seek out a feeding program ran by a licensed and credentialed expert in the field.  Parents of children who are not meeting milestones should reach out to their pediatrician to ask for a referral to see a Speech Language Pathologist for a pediatric feeding evaluation that will help them get local expert support.

If you are looking for a program that offers the support of a licensed and highly credentialed pediatric feeding specialist with over 10 years of experience helping thousands of children in the health care setting, consider joining Happy Eating Club.

Join my global community for our next round of information sharing, expert advice, researched-based tools and tips and the support of a fully licensed and credentialed pediatric feeding therapist!  You have the power to build a community of true experts in the field of feeding and swallow who understand clinically-based pediatric feeding!  Choose wisely!  Registration for May starts now!  Click here to claim your spot in Happy Eating Club – May 5th!