Joining us in this episode of the Chatabout Children Podcast is Nicole McGrath. Nicole is a speech pathologist who specializes in pediatric feeding. And she’s going to help us understand this area a little more and give us tips on how to handle fussy eaters.
Nicole worked in a Sydney-based hospital as a pediatric feeding therapist and has worked with feeding clients quite extensively. She has also done a lot of specific training with various approaches to manage feeding and her expertise is very well known as she creates holistic and innovative therapy programs to suit her clients and their families. On top of all that, she is a mother of 3 children.
- What got Nicole drawn into speech pathology and the area of feeding in particular.
- The key things that she looks at when assessing fussy eaters.
- The various sort of skills that she tries to uncover when doing an initial feeding assessment, where she actually observes a child eating in real-time.
- How she assesses babies’ feeding differently from older children, the different things she looks at like the baby’s oral cavity, tongue ties, history of reflux, and allergies.
- The complexity of feeding and why you need to take a holistic approach.
- Why someone should see a speech pathologist for their child’s feeding issues.
- How to differentiate between fussiness and not being fussy in a child.
- Why you need to get support, especially if your child’s fussiness is affecting the family.
- Why fussiness does not equate to misbehaving.
- Concerned about your child’s nutrition? Nicole discusses when is the right time to consult a nutritionist or dietician.
- Why using gadgets or TV as a distraction for kids while eating is not good.
Nicole’s handy tips on how to manage fussy eaters:
- Give children an opportunity to explore a whole range of foods.
- Set a routine around meal time which involves presenting the types of foods available to the child and then allow the child to choose how much food to eat.
- Keep them engaged and joyful during meal time.
- For babies who are breast or bottle-fed, making sure to link in with health professionals (GP, speech pathologist, dietician, etc.) that can support you in developing the child’s ability to eat.
- Teach children to listen to their bodies and to understand when they’ve had enough of food is going to get you further than “bribing” them to eat.
“Feeding is a lifelong skill…and being able to support that skill is really rewarding.”
“Fussy eating is really quite common. Lots of parents will say their kids are fussy eaters at some degree.”
“Kids, when it comes to food, they do not choose to be picky. It’s not a behaviour that they are doing to hurt your feelings or annoy you.”
“Learning to eat is complex, it’s a developmental process, it takes time. So give it time, take that pressure off of you. You’re doing a great job by showing that you are concerned.”