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Kids who have been labeled “picky eaters” deserve the experience of happy family mealtimes, just as normal eaters do. Feeding Therapy at Zier Institute and our sister client in Chicago, AZ+A, help families experience joyful and responsive mealtimes together. Schedule a free 15-minute consultation to discuss how feeding therapy can help your family.

Our resident feeding specialist, Karen Dilfer (MS, OTR/L), and our team of occupational therapists understand that family mealtimes can be stressful and getting kids to eat can be challenging, Improved family relationships, mental health, and more nutritious diets for kids are just a few of the benefits of family mealtime.

Nutrition informs our body’s systems to work together in synergy. When providing our body systems with good information; including nutritious food and deep sleep, we begin to feel fully optimized, both physically and mentally.

Finding solutions for feeding challenges that your family may be facing is an important part of the relationship-based therapies at Zier Institute. Here are five ways to help kids that are struggling with eating and kids who aren’t currently enjoying family mealtime.

5 Ways to Make Family Mealtime a Happy Time:

  1. Hunger is an important part of being a typical eater. By not allowing kids to graze during the day, they will experience the privilege of appetite when they are (appropriately) hungry, Offer foods every few hours: meal-snack-meal-snack 🥗  🍪 🍲
  2. When routines are predictable, it helps kids understand expectations and decreases anxiety because they know what and when to expect the next meal, activity, etc. Use routines by offering dinner at approximately the same time in the same place.
  3. Understand that it’s the parent’s job to offer food. Consider providing at least three foods and a drink at each meal for kids to have choices. Giving children and teens options is a great way to avoid power struggles at this dinner table.
  4. It’s a child’s job to say yes, no, or how much at mealtime. When children decide how much to eat, they get good at regulating their energy intake. As parents and caregivers, we do not need to comment on a child’s choices or encourage them to eat more.
  5. For particular children, it’s important to ensure there is at least one preferred food at each meal. It doesn’t have to be a separate entree–although it could be. Sometimes, options might look like a dinner roll or even a glass of milk.

Learn more about eating competence and joyful mealtimes by clicking HERE for an excellent mealtime resource for families.