Category: Parenting

Helping Your Child with Extreme Picky Eating Book Review

Parents of children with feeding difficulties need to take advantage of this book, Helping Your Child with Extreme Picky Eating by Katja Rowell, MD (family doctor and feeding specialist) and Jenny McGlothlin, MS, SLP (speech language pathologist specializing in pediatric feeding disorders). I’m a reader and reading is a preferred learning method for me personally. Repetition in learning feeding therapy strategies is always beneficial for parents. I’ve not seen a book so appropriately written, specifically for parents, to address feeding difficulties for children before. This book would be a great addition to participating in feeding therapy with your child. Really, I feel like this is a great summary of what I teach parents during a 3-4 month period of weekly feeding therapy.

Often, I remind parents of recommendations I’ve given in the past and they have forgotten. This book would be great to read before, during or after a child has received feeding therapy. It would really solidify the information given and parents could refer back to it easily.

If your child hasn’t started feeding therapy, I suggest reading this book one chapter at a time. Remember that I said it’s a good summary of what I teach parents over 3-4 months at a time? It is a large amount of information and could possibly be overwhelming all at once. Read a chapter, then take a week or two to really think and start applying the suggestions at home. Then go on through chapter by chapter like this until you’ve finished the book.

The philosophy of feeding therapy presented in this book addresses the importance of decreasing anxiety around food first, then to encourage and facilitate building skills in a trusting and safe mealtime environment. It mirrors my own feeding therapy philosophy. Towards the end of the book, the authors also discuss finding a feeding therapist and program that is a good fit for your child and family.

The book is written with a compassionate and realistic understanding of what children and parents go through when a child isn’t eating well. The authors structure the book around Jenny McGlothin’s STEPS+ feeding therapy approach.

STEP 1: Decrease Anxiety, Stress and Power Struggles.

STEP 2: Establish a Structured Routine

STEP 3: Have Family Meals

STEP 4: Know What to Serve and How to Serve It

STEP 5: Build Skills

Buy this book! Here is the Amazon link: Helping Your Child with Extreme Picky Eating. The book’s publisher, New Harbinger Publications even has digital downloads to help implement book suggestions.

I provide feeding therapy services in children’s homes in Davis, Morgan and Weber counties in Utah. If I am not in your area, Feeding Matters has compiled an extensive list of international feeding professionals. I’d love to help your family!


*I am part of the Amazon Associates Program. If you choose to buy this book from Amazon, I’d love for you to purchase it through the link on my website to help support the work I do with Yums Theraplay! Thank you!


Dylbug Products for Creative and Fun Food Exploration During Mealtimes

Mealtimes are meant for shared fun, enjoyment and exploration! Is this true in your household? Or are your children plugging their noses, turning their heads, covering their mouths and hiding under the table? I’ve seen the entire spectrum of refusal-to-eat behaviors in my 15 years of experience as an occupational therapist specializing in treating children with feeding difficulties.

When I first see a child for feeding therapy, my first step and recommendation to parents is to create a stress-free, enjoyable, engaging mealtime environment where their child can explore and interact with all types of food. Each child is unique in their temperament and abilities and parents should work to build a relationship of trust with their child to create a safe and nurturing place to eat.

With my own children, after coming home to dishes piled in the sink from yesterday’s meals, backpacks and homework scattered across the kitchen, dirty lunchboxes, basketballs bouncing on the tile floor, begging for piano practicing to be finished, trying to put together dinner with my own growling tummy, my patience and creativity are pretty well depleted. Once I’ve finally gotten the food prepared and on the table to eat, it’s time to make the meal stress-free, enjoyable, engaging and fun through exploring and interacting with food and children who aren’t too impressed or excited with the green things in their pasta. Does this sound vaguely familiar? Compared to families of children who struggle to eat, I know I have nothing to complain about because this scenario would be a dream come true for their child to turn their head at only the green things!  

Recently, a friend sent me a video clip of Leslie Mingo showing her Dylbug children’s mealtime products. I especially love her plates, food cutters and placemats! These plates, bowls, cups, cutters and placemats encourage food exploration and interaction in a fun, enjoyable, engaging way without mustering up large quantities of your own creative energy as you sit down to the table. Sometimes parents and children just need a starting point for creativity to encourage food exploration. Dylbug’s products could be one of those creative starting points!

During food exploration and interaction that I use during my feeding therapy sessions, I encourage looking at the colors and shapes of food, smelling the food as it slowly gets closer to the face and touching the food with hands, arms, face and lips to help children ease into being comfortable with the sensory properties of a challenging food before eating it. Dylbug’s products can be a great addition to feeding therapy tools for feeding therapists and families encouraging their children to eat at home.  

In addition to allowing your child to help use the food cutters and placing food on the plate to decorate it, they could try to recreate it again, such as holding the food “hat” up to their own head to encourage touching closer to their face. The placemats have fun designs and places to draw on it. I would encourage drawing with food for more interaction, using dipping sauces, food pieces or crumbs to “color” in the blank spaces. Those are just some beginning ideas to start off the creativity and exploration with your children. (But, please remember that you are creating an environment of trust, so be sure to read your child’s cues and not push too far.)

Leslie is a mother of three, including one that she describes as a picky eater. She wanted to make healthy eating fun, so used her artistic background and love for creativity to do just that. Her children will eat new foods with the playful way they are displayed on her plates. She’s also heard that other children are doing the same thing with her products. “Parents are amazed at how excited their children are to eat what is on their plate. It just makes mealtime happy,” says Leslie. Dylbug has an Instagram feed of photos of ideas from Leslie and other parents who are using Dylbug’s products. Leslie said, “Parents are so proud of what healthy ideas they create. It’s a great way for everyone (including me) to get ideas and support on how to feed our children.”

Dylbug is a Utah-based company that started about a year ago. Dylbug products are currently only sold online at, but Leslie is hoping that in the near future she can start selling in local boutiques. You definitely need to check out all the fun and creative dress-up designs that can be customized with hair, skin color, names and the car or train designs with matching food cutters and placements. At least follow dylbug on Instagram to be inspired for food exploration to make mealtimes enjoyable and fun for everyone!

If your child continues to struggle to eat, please read my blog post, “When Does Picky Eating Become a Problem?” to determine if your child may benefit from feeding therapy or further professional intervention. I offer feeding therapy services in children’s homes in Utah in Weber-Davis-Morgan counties. Happy exploring, creating and eating!                

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.

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