Month: February 2016

When Does Picky Eating Become a Problem?

I’ve been preparing for a feeding presentation I’ve given for the past few years to early childhood professionals in Utah. My good friend, Melissa Willes, who is also an awesome feeding and speech therapist, presents with me. We will be at the Utah Early Childhood Education Conference this Saturday, March 5, 2016! I wanted to share some thoughts from our presentation that may be helpful. Many parents don’t realize that help is available for children with feeding difficulties.

VIDEO: See Tera talk about when to be concerned about a picky eater with FOX 13 The Place here.

Feeding your children is a never-ending task. Believe me, I understand as a mother of 3 children! I’m not a great cook, so mealtimes are stressful for me with just my typical eaters. In my many years of feeding therapy, of all the different kinds of treatment, I think feeding difficulties create the most stress for parents. You can’t ever forget it or set it aside. If your child isn’t eating, it is an all-consuming stress. First, you must plan what you’re going to give your child to eat. Then, you must prepare it (if you remembered to buy it all at the grocery store beforehand). Now, create the right environment and provide the right encouragement so your child will eat without all-out battles! You may end up arguing with your spouse about the best way to feed your child. Finally, you are left to clean up the mess… and the cycle starts over again… And this happens several times a day! Oh, and don’t forget the times your own mom or a friend stops by and tells you how she would do it to make sure your child eats!

It is common for children to go through picky eating stages and have days where they don’t eat as much as you think is enough. But, when should you be worried and stop waiting for her to outgrow it? Melissa and I have created this list with inspiration from Kay Toomey, PhD, about when you should seek professional intervention for your child’s feeding difficulties. Talk with your child’s doctor about seeking out help. The earlier feeding issues are addressed, the better the outcomes!

I’ve also recently found a great new resource on the Feeding Matters website. They have an age-based feeding questionnaire that you can fill out for your child. They offer suggestions and also talk about age-appropriate feeding behaviors based upon the results.

If you are interested in individual feeding therapy in your home in the Weber, Davis and Morgan County area in Utah, I’d love to help!

When Does Picky Eating Become a Problem?

  • Ongoing coughing, choking or gagging while eating or drinking
  • Throwing up frequently
  • Consistent crying, arching or signs of pain or discomfort while eating
  • Difficulty breathing while eating
  • Falling off his growth curve
  • Hasn’t started eating baby food purees by 10 months old
  • Not accepting table foods by 12 months old
  • Not using a cup by 16 months old
  • Hasn’t transitioned to table foods from baby food purees by 16 months old
  • When older than 12 months old, eats 20 or less total different foods
  • “Burns out” on favorite foods and doesn’t pick up new ones to replace the dropped foods
  • Refuses entire food groups or food textures
  • Can’t tolerate new food on her plate
  • Doesn’t tolerate small changes to his favorite foods
  • Almost always refuses to eat the same food the family is eating
  • Mealtimes are battles: stressful and miserable for everyone, including caregiver and child

Tube-Feeding Support Group in Utah

UPDATE: June’s Tube-Feeding Support Group will be held Thursday, June 30, 2016 at 6:30 pm at Primary Children’s Hospital on the 3rd floor in Classroom D & E.

I’m excited to share the only tube feeding support group that I’ve ever of heard of in Utah in my 15 years as an occupational therapist treating children with feeding difficulties! I’ve worked with many families whose children cannot eat enough by mouth and have no other option than to place a feeding tube so their child can get the nutrition they need. Sometimes this lasts only a few weeks, but many children require tubes for many years to even life. Feeding tubes are a wonderful medical advancement that have saved millions of lives, but I have always been acutely aware of the emotional bombshell for every family when a feeding tube is considered, placed and then sent home to become their own child’s tube feeding expert. This group will be a great resource to help families affected with this overwhelming process.

Our community has many great families with wonderful knowledge and perspective that are willing to share with others in the same situation. For healthcare professionals, it is an almost impossible task in our current healthcare environment of privacy, time and budget constraints to logistically coordinate connecting parents who can support each other. I’m thrilled we have great parent advocates in our community willing to launch this support group!

This tube feeding support group will be run by parents of children with feeding tubes. Garrett is the parent support group leader and father of a daughter with a feeding tube. He has been a tenacious advocate for his own daughter, Lucy, and has extended that tenacity to the larger community of families who have children with feeding concerns. Garrett has also been involved with Feeding Matters, an advocacy organization for children with feeding struggles. Lucy has struggled with eating by mouth since she started eating solid foods as an infant and currently has a G-tube for her nutritional intake.

If you are interested in learning about Lucy’s feeding story, here is a link to a short video: Meet Lucy.

Topics will initially range from navigating the insurance system, to finding and sharing feeding resources, to effectively collaborating with healthcare professionals (doctors, feeding therapists, dieticians, etc.) for the benefit of children with or who are in the process of the placement of a feeding tube. This support group is primarily for families to share and seek support without the pressures of healthcare professionals’ judgment that may be present in other settings.

The second meeting will be Thursday, March 31, 2016 at 6:30 pm at Primary Children’s Hospital on the 3rd floor in Classroom D & E. They are currently planning to meet once a month.

Garrett has graciously provided his phone number if you have questions. He can be reached at 801-554-0184.

If you know of other community resources in Utah for children with feeding difficulties, please share!