Strategies to Help Overcome Picky Eating

Meal time for families with picky eaters can be frustrating. In my experience, parents are willing to do anything to have their child eat. Most often parents become “short order cooks,” making multiple meals for the family, because they know that one (or more) of their children won’t eat (insert vegetable/protein here). Parents often will only make the few favorite/preferred foods, because they know their child will eat that. Continuing to Introduce (or reintroduce) new or non-preferred food is important, because it can take anywhere from 10 to 50 times (or more) that a food is presented before a child may try it.

Here are a few strategies to try out… and, of course, praise comes with each step!

1. Introduce a new food or previously rejected food item on a side plate near your child’s main plate. They don’t have to touch it or eat it, they only have to tolerate it being near them. This can take as long as a day or two or up to a week (or longer) depending on the child.

2. Once your child has tolerated having the food near their plate. Put the new/previously rejected food on their plate without the expectation of your child eating it. They don’t have to eat it, but they have to keep it on their plate.

3. Encourage your child to touch the food; pick it up, smell it, kiss it or touch it to their cheek. Don’t encourage your child to eat it just yet; just get your child used to touching the food item.

4. As your child becomes used to the food, encourage them to take a bite, and then they can spit it out in a separate bowl. I know that spitting out food seems counter intuitive, however, this step is more about trying a bite than eating. 

5. Once your child is successful in taking bites, encourage preschooler to chew it 1 to 3 times before spitting it out; increase the number of chews as you see fit. 

Trying new (or previously rejected) food can be challenging for you and your preschooler, however making it less stressful for your preschooler will help make mealtime for the family less stressful. 

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My 15 Favorite OT Toys & Games

My 15 Favorite Preschool OT Toys & Games There are so many fabulous children’s toys and games on the market now, it’s tough to choose. My favorites are ones that are not only fun and motivating for children but they are also are great at helping to develop fine motor, visual perceptual and bilateral coordination skills. Below is a list of my top 15 games and toys that will help develop your child’s OT skills without them even knowing!! 1. Blocks! – any and all shapes, sizes and weights Skills- spatial awareness, visual perception, grasp development, body modulation (during stacking activities), bilateral coordination, motor planning, proximal stability 2. Sneaky Snacky Squirrel Game Skills: matching, following directions, hand strengthening and grasp development 3. Wok and Roll Skills: matching, eye hand coordination, grasp development 4. Perfection – travel version or regular Skills: visual perception, eye-hand coordination, grasp development 5. Tumbling Monkeys Skills: fine motor, grasp development, visual motor, motor planning, visual perceptual 6. Feed the Dog/ Feed the Bunny Fine Motor Game- Lakeshore Skills: Grasp development, hand strength & endurance, eye- hand coordination 7. Lacing & Tracing Cards by Melissa & Doug Skills: Fine motor, eye-hand coordination, motor planning, bilateral coordination, visual motor control 8. Cariboo by Cranium **No longer for sale in typical retail stores but gently used versions can be purchased from amazon.com in “very good” condition** Skills: visual perceptual skills, grasp development, eye hand coordination, turn-taking 9. Tissue Art by Alex Skills: Hand strengthening, grasp development, matching, eye-hand coordination 10. Chalkboard/White board tabletop Easel (use broken chalk pieces and have kids clean it using a spray bottle) Skills: Prewriting skill development, wrist extension, grasp development, visual motor control, hand strength 11. Stringing Pegs and Pegboard Set by Laurie Toys Skills: visual perception, eye-hand coordination, dexterity, bilateral coordination 12. Avalanche Fruit Stand Game by Learning Resource Skills: grasp development, visual motor control, visual perception, eye-hand coordination, hand strength 13. Lacing Beads Skills: eye-hand coordination, dexterity, bilateral coordination, grasp development 14. My First Sticky Mosaics by Orb Factory Skills: Bilateral coordination, eye hand coordination, visual perception, grasp and dexterity development 15. Clay, Putty, Playdough– pull, squeeze, press, fold, pinch! Skills: hand strengthening, bilateral coordination BONUS: ***Tips on Using IPads with your Preschooler***

  • Use in moderation. Everyday, hands-on manipulation of age appropriate toys and materials is best for your child’s fine motor development!
  • Use a stylus whenever possible. The mini stylus’ are ideal for preschool- sized hands!
  • Some of my favorite apps: Dexteria Jr, Wet-dry-try, and iWrite

School Transitions

As we enter this time of year, many questions come up on how to aid children with upcoming school transitions.  Some children may be changing classrooms within the same building, some may be preparing for the transition to Kindergarten, and some may be transitioning to a different school.  The strategies and examples listed below are just a few ways you as parents can help support and prepare children so they feel as comfortable as they can be while going through a school transition:

  • Talk About It:  As soon as you know the transition will occur, start the discussion!

  • Preview It:  Visit the new school; Go to the school playground; Start driving past the new school, or do some dry runs of what the new route may look like

  • School/Community Based Events:  Take advantage of any spring/summer school based events that may be taking place such as story times and kindergarten get togethers

Below is a link that is specific to the transition to Kindergarten which includes some great strategies of how to support your child’s readiness and functional skills in preparation for this transition.  Providing practice opportunities with these skills can help children to feel more confident and independent when the transition occurs:

http://www.pbs.org/parents/experts/archive/2011/08/helping-children-prepare-for-k.html