Mealtimes in a household with a child with feeding difficulties can be stressful, not just for the parent, but for the child too! Increased stress at mealtimes often results in reduced willingness to try new foods. Luckily, there are many strategies available to create happy, enjoyable mealtimes. Below are some strategies that you can try at home!
- Help your child transition to mealtime by giving a verbal warning (e.g., “dinner is in 5 minutes”) and setting up a meal time routine (e.g., go wash your hands then go to the table).
- Eat meals as a family. Pass the food around family-style and allow your child to see you eating and enjoying food. You can assign mealtime roles, such as setting the table, serving others, helping make the meal, or cleaning up.
- Remove distractions, such as TV, iPad, and phones, at mealtimes.
- Reduce the use of questions and use positive language. “You can” phrases are helpful in telling the child what you would like them to do. For example, instead of saying “don’t throw your food”, you can say “you can put the food on your plate.”
- Avoid threats (e.g., “eat your broccoli or no video games”) and bribes (e.g., “if you eat ____, you get candy”).