[Small Toddler Girl, Wearing A Yellow Top And Denim Overalls, She Has Her Hair In Pig Tails With Yellow Clips In, She Is Looking Down. Supporting Your Child & Family Fussy Eating @ Sports & Spinal Logo Take The Fuss Out Of Dinner Time!

Fussy Eating @ Sports & Spinal

“Every mealtime is an argument”

“I just want them to try new foods”

“The smallest changes to his/her food results in a meltdown”

“My child is not growing”

“Chicken nuggets, white bread and pretzels are not a balanced diet!”

Sound familiar? Picky eaters can be frustrating. Especially when you add them on top of our busy lifestyles, full-time workloads, homeschooling and oh help us – two picky eaters in the same home!

You are not alone!

Fussy eating can be a normal part of childhood development, usually starting around 18 months. Parents commonly report that their child previously ate a wide range of foods but now are picky and often refusing foods like vegetables and meats or eating the same foods on repeat (hello white, processed foods!). Feeling overwhelmed, helpless and like a parental’ failure’ can be a daily emotion for parents of picky and fussy eaters. But their quirks are not necessarily just by chance. While some children will grow out of their fussy eating, others have underlying conditions that will continue to interfere with their feeding ability without intervention. For these children (and their parents), eating is not an easy task!

How do you know if you have a typical fussy eater who will likely grow out of their eating troubles or a child who will likely require professional support to achieve less stressful mealtimes and an adequate diet?

Picky Eaters:

1. Decreased range of variety of foods; typically has 30 more foods in their food range
2. Food lost due to “burn out” from Food Jaggering are usually eaten again after a 2 week break
3. Eats at least one food from most all nutrition or texture groups e.g meltable foods, fruit, proteins
4. Can tolerate new foods on their plate (even if reluctant)
5. Frequently eats a different set of foods at a meal than other family members; typically eats at the same time and table of other family members
6. Sometimes reported as a “picky eater” at well-child check-ups
7. Learns to eat new foods in 20 – 25 steps on the Steps to Eating Hierarchy

Problem Feeders:

1. Restricted range or a variety of foods; usually eats less than 20 foods
2. Food lost due to “burn out” from Food Jaggering are not eaten again after a break, resulting in a further decrease in the # of foods eaten
3. Refuses entire categories of food texture or nutrition groups e.g soft cubes, meats, vegetables, hard mechanicals
4. Cries, screams, tantrums, “falls apart”, when new foods are presented, complete refusal
5. Almost always eats a different set of foods than their family; often eats at a different time or at a different place to other family members
6. Persistently reported by parents to be a “picky eater” at multiple well-child check-ups
7. Requires more than 25 steps to learn to eat new foods

Regardless of what category you consider your child to fall into, seeking professional support for mealtimes is an efficient method to reduce your mealtime (and overall) stress.

As an experienced professional in the area of fussy eating, our dietitian Ricki-lee can give you the tools to change meal time behaviour once and for all! Ricki-lee will be able to help you identify the cause of your child’s fussiness and using evidence-based and individually tailored strategies, support you in achieving a quieter, calmer meal time with a wider variety of foods.

For our extreme fussy eaters, Ricki-lee is trained in the SOS Approach to Feeding. Your child will be guided through the 32 steps to eating from tolerating the food in the room, on the plate, touching the food, smelling the food, licking the food all the way to chewing and swallowing the food. Most fussy eaters can add a new food in 15-25 steps (most of which we don’t even know they are doing). For extreme fussy eaters, it may take a long time working up each of the 32 steps and celebrating the small wins as they come.

Not sure if your child would benefit from SOS therapy? If you answer yes to any of the below, an SOS Feeding Assessment with Ricki-lee is recommended.

  • Ongoing poor weight gain, weight loss or Pre-term birth
  • Chronic or persistent choking, gagging, nasal reflux, coughing during meals or vomiting
  • Has a birth defect or genetic disorder (ASD, ADHD, Anxiety Disorder, ADD, Cognitive delay, Down syndrome, Dyslexia, Emotional disorders, Fragile X syndrome, Learning disabilities, Sensory Processing Disorder, Sensory Integration Dysfunction, Tourette’s Syndrome)
  • Has been identified as having low muscle tone or a muscle disorder
  • Arches and/or cries at most meals
  • Did not achieve developmental milestones on time, including delay progressing through texture phases (puree to solids)
  • Consumes less than 20 foods consistently.
  • Avoidance towards all foods in a specific texture (wet, squishy, crunchy, etc.) or nutrition group (meat, vegetables, starches, fruits, etc.)?
  • Preference towards ultra-processed or uniform foods (e.g. crisps, sausages, chicken nuggets, crustless toast)
  • Accepted foods are being dropped over time with no new foods being accepted
  • Periods of Naso-gastric feeding, Tube or PEG feeding OR other non-oral feeding methods
  • History of traumatic choking incident and failure to return that food back into the diet
  • Most mealtimes are described as a battle or fight to get the child to feed
  • The child is disinterested in mealtime and the foods presented.
  • The child is difficult for everyone to feed

What is involved in a Feeding Assessment?

Before your appointment, you will be emailed a number of documents for completion. These are required to be returned to our office no less than 7 days before your appointment for review by the Dietitian. Your child will undergo a Feeding Evaluation in one of our clinics on the day of his/her appointment. The appointment will involve you preparing a meal for your child to replicate a home meal. The meal will have 2 foods your child will and 2 foods your child will NOT eat. Your mealtime will be observed remotely. The Dietitian may enter the room during the meal to prompt anything that may be unclear. Once your mealtime has been completed, the Dietitian will discuss with you some strategies to help protect your child’s nutritional status before concluding the session.

The Dietitian will then prepare a report and make a time with you to discuss the findings and recommendations. If your child is suitable for the ‘Fussy Eating’ program, reception will arrange the bookings for you.

Before the program commences, your Dietitian will ask you to bring a number of foods to the appointment. This allows parents to replicate food sessions in the home setting. Parents are required to stay with their children for the duration of the appointment. These last for 60-90 minutes. After the session, the Dietitian will provide some ‘take home’ tasks to work on between appointments. After 12 sessions, your child will be reassessed. If further sessions are required, this will be discussed with the parent. We understand that no children are the same. Session frequency and therapy goals will be set based on what is best for the child and their family.

If you are unsure whether your child would benefit from a feeding assessment, complete the questionnaire here. Results can be taken to your GP for a referral, however, a referral is not necessary. Appointments can be made by contacting the Nambour Sports & Spinal clinic or Coolum Sports & Spinal clinic. If you cannot attend those two clinics Ricki-Lee is available for telehealth appointments.

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