How to Have Fun with Food at Easter with Fussy Eater Children

Having Fun with Food Can Help Your Fussy Eater Child. Easter holidays are a great time to have some fun with food with your fussy eater children. Having fun with food can have a positive impact on your fussy or anxious eater child. Fussy eater children are often worried and anxious about eating new foods. They will often worry about the look, feel, smell and texture of the food and feel safer eating their familiar foods. Encouraging food play and making food fun helps to reduce anxiety and gives children confidence to explore new foods. Whilst playing with the food your child will be learning about the feel of the food, how it smells and changes as it is peeled, sliced and chopped. If your child is anxious about touching a new food they are less likely to eat it. Taking the focus away from eating and place it on creating and having fun with the food often results in children being able to tolerate foods they have previously refused to touch. How to Make Food Fun If your fussy eater child is hesitant to touch wet textures then use a utensil as a barrier between their hand and the food. A fun cookie cutter works well. They will soon be thinking about the shape the cutter is making rather than what they are cutting because it is fun. Little bits of food are bound to get on their hands which is the first step. Encourage them to use their imagination and create Easter pictures and scenes using a variety of different foods. Use paintbrushes to paint on features...
The Benefits of Eating Breakfast with Your Fussy Eater Child

The Benefits of Eating Breakfast with Your Fussy Eater Child

The Benefits of Eating Breakfast with your Fussy Eater Child Here we will think about the benefits of eating breakfast with your Fussy Eater child. Children we work with at Magnificent Munchers are often very anxious at meal times. They tend to eat the same meals as these feel safe to them. The foods they eat are predictable and they are confident on how to eat them.  Many of the children eat dry cereal or toast for breakfast. Our aim at Magnificent Munchers is to reduce anxiety and increase the child’s food range. One of the first actions I ask parents to take at home is to eat with their child as much as possible as this will provide many benefits. Often with busy life styles, working patterns and after school activities it is difficult to find the time for family meal times. I find breakfast is often a meal parents don’t automatically think of sharing with their child. There are many benefits of eating breakfast with your fussy eater child: A way to expose your child to new foods An opportunity to model good eating habits A time to teach children about food smells A time to teach children about the textures of different foods A time to “pause” and think about the day ahead Sharing Breakfast I find that people often forget about breakfast being a time for shared eating. Time is tight on weekday mornings as families have limited time to get ready for the day but with some simple planning you can have a shared breakfast. By making time to share breakfast you will be...

Top Tips to enjoy Christmas Dinner with a Fussy Eater Toddler

Jacqueline Parkinson is a Children’s Occupational Therapist based in Harpenden, Hertfordshire. Her team including a Speech and Language Therapist, Dietician and Therapy Assistants work with children with eating difficulties. More information can be found at https://magnificentmunchers.co.uk   Tips for enjoying Christmas Dinner with a Fussy Eater Toddler. Christmas dinner can be a very stressful time especially if you have a fussy eater toddler. Therefore, follow our simple steps which will help prepare your toddler for Christmas dinner and reduce your stress. The Impact of the 5 senses on a Fussy Eater Toddler Christmas dinner can be a sensory overload for fussy eater toddlers. The noise of everyone talking, scraping their cutlery and chewing their food. The smell of all the different types of food as well as all the various perfumes and body sprays guests may use. The sight of unfamiliar foods, of other people eating and potential mess on the table. Guests are often packed tightly around the table resulting in them sitting very close to your toddler who may not like unexpected touch. The thought of having to taste new foods can be distressing. This can all be very overwhelming especially if meal times are not your toddler’s favourite time of the day. Therefore spending time helping your fussy eater prepare for the meal can help to reduce stress for all involved. Get Creative with Food: During December do some sensory play activities that will help your toddler familiarise themselves with the look, smell and feel of some of the foods. Instead of using paints and playdoh use food for creative play because this will help your...

Why Is Seating Important for Fussy Eaters?

If your child is a picky eater, encourage your child to learn about different foods at mealtime. You need to maximise their concentration and avoid anything that might distract them. If they are not sitting comfortably or fully supported, they will most certainly be distracted. Best toddler/child seating when eating Many children sit on a regular dining chair at the table or a bar stool for meal times. This usually means the child’s feet are unsupported. Due to their small stature, they will be at a low level for the height of the table. They will then be using energy on maintaining their balance and posture and are likely to get tired and frustrated easily. I know when I have been to restaurants and the seating is low to the table I feel uncomfortable. It takes more effort to use my cutlery as I am having to stretch up more to get my arms on a comfortable position at the table. I also feel I can’t interact as well with my friends. If I am at a lower level even conversation and my interacted is impacted. Put me on a cushion and suddenly I feel much more engaged and content (my feet still touch the floor). Bar stools are another matter altogether! Not only are they high so a bit difficult to get onto but they often move as well. I can never get my feet (if they reach) to sit on the bar. After a short while I tend to get frustrated and would rather stand. Imagine how all this feels for a child who has the added...

Why Is My Child a Fussy Eater?

When parents initially contact us at Magnificent Munchers, Therapy for Fussy Eaters, they often start the conversation with “I know it is my fault”. This always makes my heart sink a little. All the parents who contact me have already tried so many ways to get their child to eat a wider variety of food. They have often had advice from Health Professionals, family or friends, and are feeling very frustrated. As parents we often start by blaming ourselves but there are so many factors to consider. Nature and nurture, impact on a child’s taste development and eating patterns. I think it is helpful to try to understand some of these factors. Early Taste Experiences The first taste experience happens early on. Whilst the baby is developing in utero the smells and flavour of the mother’s food passes to the baby through the amniotic fluid. As the developing baby swallows the amniotic fluid it passes over the smell and taste receptors in the nose and mouth. The baby is starting to learn about the mother’s food preferences. The mother’s food preferences continue to influence the baby’s taste development during breast feeding. The breast milk contains taste molecules from the mother’s food. Babies are born with a preference for sweet tastes as breast milk is naturally slightly sweet and a good source of energy. The baby then learns to like the taste of salt, sour and umami. Umani (a savoury meaty taste) Fat is also now being considered as the 6th basic taste. Research has shown that the mother’s food preferences in pregnancy and during breast feeding can influence food...

My Road to becoming a Children’s Occupational Therapist specialising in Fussy Eaters

My Childhood People often ask me how I became interested in fussy eaters. I think it stems back to my own childhood. I grew up in a local authority boarding school in Kent in a beautiful mansion house. Our surroundings were beautiful but our lives difficult. We ate most our meals in a large dining room where we had to go up to a central table to be served. The food was made on the premises but mass catering is often not the greatest. We could choose a small, medium or large portion. I never liked meal times and always chose the small portion. I spent most my mealtimes thinking how to get rid of the food, sometimes tipping it on the floor, hiding in my clothes or pouching it in my cheeks to spit into the toilet later. Fussy Eater or just not interested in Food? I wouldn’t say I was a fussy eater I just never really liked much food. There were also some routines of the school which only served to encourage my dislike of certain foods. We started each day with a run (no matter what he weather) but our hot chocolate would be made before we started out so you can imagine a lovely skin had formed by our return. If we didn’t eat we were spoon fed it. Uneaten meals were sometimes returned at the next meal or punishments given if food not eaten. My next blog will explore more about what we mean at Magnificent Munchers when we talk about fussy eaters. Food Police! At this time, I also developed a taste...

Therapy for Fussy Eaters

Food School – Week 3 We are into week 3 of both our latest Food School Programmes for Fussy Eaters. The children are getting to know the routine and are already relaxing more around food. We are using green as our theme so have had broccoli microphones and painted with apple sauce. The children are progressing along the steps to eating. They are really encouraging each other by watching one another and  are having lots of fun together. Dealing with Choking Responding to parent’s suggestions, today we welcomed Shavalyea Gilbert from hertfordshire.minifirstaid.co.uk who gave an excellent hands on training session.  Parents had previously raised concerns about giving children certain foods as they were worried about choking hence us arranging this session. Shayalyea taught the parents the difference between gagging and choking as well as how to use CPR. Parents now have the skills to deal with incidents should they need...

5 Star Food Hygiene Rating

Following an inspection by St Alban’s City Council we are pleased to announce that Magnificent Munchers has been awarded a 5 Star Food Hygiene Rating. The team work incredibly hard to maintain our robust policies and procedures which has been recognised with our rating. Parents can book onto our next Food School Programme for picky/fussy eaters beginning in September knowing we have extremely high standards of food...

Discussing issues surrounding eating with parents

Jacqueline Parkinson our Children’s Occupational Therapist has recently delivered a talk to parents about the issues surrounding eating difficulties at a special primary school in Letchworth. The parents at Woolgrove School came away with tips and information that they could try within the home setting. One parent said “What a fantastic talk, so helpful to have such specialist information. Thank you so much.” Other responses from parents were “Very informative and interesting. Lots of tips to try. Thank you” and “Very, very helpful, some excellent ideas &...