How To Get Your Kids To Eat During Thanksgiving
It’s hard to believe, but it’s already November! In fact, it’s almost December! We know that holidays are hard for some of our kiddos who are picky eaters, so we want to give you some tips to help you get through the holiday season with happy kids.
1. Let them help.
One thing you can do as you’re getting ready for the holidays is to let your child help in preparing the food. They can help with washing vegetables. They can look at and touch the food, and you can talk about it what it looks like and smells like. They can smell it while it’s cooking. All of these things will help your child to be more likely to interact with the food when it’s time to eat.
2. Serve food family style.
Serving food family style gives your child another chance to interact with and expose themselves to different foods. They can get a scoop of food and put it on their plate. Again, they can touch it and smell it. They can also have some non-preferred food on their plate along with the food they like. This way they always have an escape so that they don’t have to go hungry if they don’t eat what they just put on their plate because they have their preferred food. If you’re traveling for the holidays, please make sure to bring along some items that you know your child will eat without issues.
Many of our picky eaters have a lot of anxiety about eating a non-preferred food. Did you know that from a sensory-based eating standpoint, there are 32 steps to eating? We start out with having a child tolerate the food in her personal space, then interacting with the food through touch, manipulating the food, smelling it, tasting it, and eventually, eating it. There are a lot of baby steps in between! So it’s important to praise your child for even just little steps in that 32-step ladder.
It’s also important to make sure they know that there’s always an out. If they don’t like the way something feels on their hands, they can just wipe their hands off! If they don’t like the way something smells, they can smell something that’s more preferred and familiar. If they put something in their mouth, they can always go to the trash can and spit it out, or spit it out in a napkin.
Sometimes if a child sees a non-preferred food on his plate and thinks that he has to jump right into eating it, that can be scary. If they know that they have a way to problem solve and escape their anxiety, that helps them to feel a lot more comfortable.
You can also model taking these little steps. After watching you your child may imitate you, and take a new step with a new food!
3. Have them help clean up.
This is another great way to expose them to non-preferred, unfamiliar foods. When they help clean up that gives them another opportunity to touch the food. Let them clear plates. Have them pack the to-go boxes for grandma and grandpa to take home leftovers from Thanksgiving. The goal is to have them expose themselves to non-preferred foods and become more and more familiar with them.
If your child is not in feeding therapy but you have significant concerns about your child’s eating habits or daily nutritional intake, feel free to reach out to us! We would love to help, and, if needed, set up a treatment plan for your child.