• Gardening Sensory Bin

    Sensory bins are a go to prep tool for us before feeding therapy.

    Want to garden indoors without the mess?

    Sensory bins are our jam! The best part about these little adventure boxes is that you do not need to put in hours of effort. Fun can be had with just a few “ingredients.”

    Our little garden bin includes:

    🐰 Rabbit tongs

    🍴 Black beans (uncooked)

    🍅 $3 Felt veggies from Target (don’t tell your husbands that we sent you)  

    Find a clear storage container ➡️ stir it up ➡️ BAM = hours of fun

    Sensory bins are a great way to get “food” ready. Not all of our little one’s are ready to jump into play with foods. This can be a great opportunity to expose your child to a variety of textures, smells, visual experiences, tastes, and sounds in a fun and playful way for the entire family.

    Do you have a favorite sensory bin? We want to know. Drop us a line 👇 in the comments.

  • How to work your little one up from an Oreo to an apple slice – “Linking To Learn”

    Ever heard of “Food Chaining?”

    Does your little one ONLY accept Goldfish Crackers and Oreos right now? Consider Linking to Learn !

    “Food Chaining (Fraker)” or the creation of “Food Hierarchies (Toomy)” refers to the idea of using foods in a planned sequence to build a path to guide your little one as they work up towards experiencing a novel food.

    This requires that we consider the sensory properties (Need a refresh? Read more about our 7 senses and how they apply to feeding here → http://our-table.org/uncategorized/true-or-false-we-have-5-senses/ ) of a food and consider how we can guide our little ones as we LINK foods to help them LEARN about new foods.

    Let’s try it out! Take a food your child always accepts (e.g., Oreos) now.. how do we work up to a fresh banana or apple? Read on!

    Okay, so they have their regular, crunchy, chocolate Oreo – where do I start? Well, let’s grab a Lemon Oreo – we changed the TASTE and COLOR for our little one → Now they have their Lemon Oreo, that Lemon Oreo is yellow (COLOR) and round (SHAPE), next up let’s give them a different yellow (COLOR), crunchy (TEXTURE) food – how about a chickpea puff (We love Hippeas Chickpea Puffs!)!! → Now they have yellow, crunchy, long chickpea puff, where to next? Let’s try some yellow (COLOR), long (SHAPE), squishy (TEXTURE) shredded cheese → Okay, they have yellow, long, squishy shredded cheese – next up, lets try a yellow (COLOR), crunchy (TEXTURE), corn chip (start with a long strip shape (SHAPE) and then hop back into yellow, round and crunchy with a fully round chip!)! → Okay they have a yellow, crunchy, round corn chip; lets try out a white (COLOR), round (SHAPE), crunchy (TEXTURE) banana chip (or maybe even a freeze dried banana slice or banana yogurt melt!)! → Now they have their white, round, crunchy banana chip, let’s flip to a round, white, squishy banana slice!

    Want to keep going?! Okay they’re exploring the banana slice, let’s mash up some of that banana and add cinnamon. Next up, you can try some soft, cooked cinnamon apples, and maybe next thing you know you’ll be exploring crunchy yellow apple slices together !

    NOTE: If you’re a therapist or a parent to a seedling or sprout, we recommend you keep an eye out for the book Food Chaining: The Proven 6-Step Plan to Stop Picky Eating, Solve Feeding Problems, and Expand Your Child’s Diet By: Cheri Fraker, Laura Walbert, Mark Fishbein, and Sibyl Cox. This is an awesome resource about “Food Chaining” which should be on every feeding therapist’s bookshelf !

    We also recommend you check out the course The Sequential Oral Sensory Approach to Feeding Therapy developed by Kay Toomey ! A feeding therapist MUST! Please Note: The SOS Approach to Feeding program was developed by Dr. Kay Toomey. For more information on the SOS Approach to Feeding program, please visit www.sosapproach.com.

  • MANGOES – 20 Ways to Play

    1) Mango Tango! Grab a slice and dance away!

    2) Literacy fun with mangoes! Slice away and count mango pieces into different number piles! 

    3) Mangoes make a great sun! Arrange them into different sun patterns!

    4) Mango popsicles to beat the heat! Encourage your child to dump all the ingredients in the blender and even help pour into the molds!

    5) Try out the mango roll! Grab a raw, whole mango and roll it back and forth across the kitchen table! See how many times you can go!

    6) Play the mango balance game! Grab a small, cubed piece of mango and balance it on your…NOSE! See how long we can keep it up there! If your little isn’t ready for the nose, try the back of their hand first!

    7) Mango Tic-Tac-Toe! Get out your small cookie cutters and slice up two different shapes of mangoes for a good old fashioned game!

    8) Mango markers make for great fun! Slice a long strip of mango and dip it up while you make your own masterpiece!

    9) Mango ice cubes anyone? Freeze cubes of mango and try tossing them into water to make for a fun twist on water, but also a fun prep time for your little!

    10) Mango -head! Use different pieces of food and toothpicks to turn a mango into your very own potato head!

    11) Mango sensory bins! Dice up those mangos and toss ice cubes in as well! Have your kiddo go diving for the cubes for an engaging sensory experience!

    12) Mango caterpillars are always a hit! Grab a kebab (or a Starbucks stopper) and stack pieces of mango on then slowly inch them around the table!

    13) Beep-beep goes the mango school bus! Slice up a large piece of mango and make your own buses! Have races, stop for pick-ups (little blueberry kids), and sing wheels on the bus!

    14) Mango mustache fun! Slice up a curved piece of mango and be as SILLY as possible with your new yellow mustache!

    15) Mango squeeze! See who can squeeze a strip of mango into a measuring cup to get out the most juice!

    16) Mango towers! See who can stack the highest tower! Bonus points if you can incorporate sticky dip in-between pieces to reinforce!

    17) Give it a go with a mango map! Grab a piece of paper and create rivers, cities, and more with little pieces of mangoes!

    18) Mix it up! Try out your very own mango smoothie recipe!

    19) Mango shape activity! Draw out shapes on a piece of paper and then place wax-paper over it to allow your little to work on building shapes!

    20) Last, but not least, serve the mango!

  • BROCCOLI – 20 Ways to Play

    Broccoli –

    We are quite positive you have heard the “let them play with their food” advice by now. Sure, it’s a great place to start for our learning eaters, but do you ever find yourself running a little low on imagination [and chronically low on sleep]? Here at Our Table, we are going to be talking about a new food each week and providing 20 ways to play that’ll keep your little ones engaged! Remember, our goal is for your little ones to interact with these new foods while becoming more comfortable and adventurous, which means we recommend avoiding any pressure for them to eat these items! Keep it playful and enjoy! 

    Broccoli

    1) Broccoli makes great trees of all sizes! Bonus points if you can include some fine motor work by “picking leaves” off the tree!

    2) Stamping anyone? Grab your condiments, ditch the nice clothing, and get to stamping! We recommend using a dip your child already prefers for this stamp party as that will encourage them to interact more with broccoli as we all crave familiarity!

    3) Use your senses! One of our favorite things to do is to talk about food properties (texture, smell, color, feeling, etc.). What better way to mix it up than to compare the feeling of raw, steamed, and frozen broccoli!

    4) Broccoli floral arrangements. Have your kids help chop some larger pieces with kid-friendly knives and arrange in a non-breakable item [reusable cup]. Try adding dots of mustard for the center of the flowers! If you’re feeling really crafty, try sticking shaved carrot sticks in as petals!

    5) Broccoli and bowling! Line your little broccoli florets up [you may need to use a puree/dip to assist them in standing] and use a small ball to knock them over. Pro-tip: incorporate another veggie by using a radish as the bowling ball.!

    6) Broccoli in the ocean. Fill up a bowl or plastic container with water and some underwater sea creatures. Have your little ones swim their sharks around the broccoli seaweed!

    7) While we are talking water….try the float or sink test! You can use a variety of fruits/vegetables for this one [try this while you’re already cleaning your produce!] Make it more fun by taking predictions and using a dramatic countdown, or drumroll!

    8) Want to incorporate literacy? Have your child break apart smaller pieces of broccoli to work on creating their letters! Try taping a piece of wax paper over a large letter from a tracing book to assist them.

    9) Broccoli as a bath? Your little ones can get small pieces of broccoli wet and use them as a pretend loofa with dolls. Or, try making a broccoli car wash!

    10) Broccoli fronds are fun! Cut off the fronds [small pieces on the head of the broccoli] and get to creating! They can be grass, carpet, sprinkles, stars, and so much more!

    11) Broccoli and the beat! Longer pieces of broccoli can be drumsticks! Try making music on toy drums or the bottoms of cups/pots and pans!

    12) While we are talking music, is it a stretch to make a broccoli microphone? Keep in mind that this means getting broccoli fairly close to the mouth which may be a challenge for little ones with extreme picky eating – keep it fun and if they are having a hard time try wrapping a food-safe cling wrap around it to see if they warm up to it more.

    13) Bet you can’t wait to try out broccoli smiley faces! Line your broccoli up in different arrangements and on different backgrounds for your own fun creations. Bonus if you can make a broc-moji!

    14) 5 Little Broccoli Jumping on the Pan! You heard that right! Let’s mix up an old song with something new! Have them “jump” off the pan into water for cooking or washing to incorporate during mealtime!

    15) Why not try a broccoli garden? Pro-tip: find some “dirt” that your child already loves (chocolate pudding, crumbled oreos, etc.) to plant your broccoli plants in as this will make interaction easier!

    16) Broccoli blending time! Stick with me here: If you have a high-power blender try tossing some cooked broccoli in there for some “green paint!”

    17) Broccoli tots make a great introduction. Try rolling the tots, stacking the tots, or even smashing them!

    18) “Find the broccoli!” Play hide and seek with the broccoli (within the boundaries of the kitchen) for a few minutes before dinner!

    19) Toss the broccoli! Try tossing the broccoli back and forth before it heads into its “bath.” See if you can gradually encourage your child to hold it for longer and longer each turn!

    20) Finally, serve the broccoli! Remember, they may not eat it, but it is great exposure for them to have it on their plates!

  • True or False: “We Have 5 Senses” ?!

    FALSE! Did you know we actually have 8 Senses?! When we think of our senses we usually think: “I know those: Vision ( 👀) Olfactory ( 👃🏾) Gustatory ( 👅) Auditory ( 👂🏼) Tactile ( ✋🏾)!” But we actually have THREE other senses — Our Vestibular, Proprioceptive and Interoceptive Senses!

    So what the heck are those?

    1. Vestibular – Think BALANCE – this refers to your ability to perceive what your body is doing (e.g., standing, laying, running) and adjust accordingly thanks to some magical crystals in our middle ear (Okay, they’re not magic – but they are super neat!)
    2. Proprioception – Think SPACE – this is your ability to interpret where your body (each and every body part!) is in space so that you can execute movements etc.!
    3. Interoception – Think INTERNAL – this is a lesser known system and refers to the pyschiological processes of our body including: emotion, thought processes, organ systems and bodily sensations (hunger, thirst, tired, etc.)

    So how does this relate to feeding? We live in a multi-sensory world, and we use each one of those senses every time we eat or take a drink.

    We use ALL 8 SENSES when we eat and drink! Picture yourself eating a cracker ➡️ First, you use VISION to see the cracker across the room on the table, this cues our brains (🧠) that we might be getting ready to eat, including increasing our saliva production and sending out those hunger cues!

    As you sit down at the table to eat your cracker, wait… did you fall off your chair?! No?! You can thank your PROPRIOCEPTIVE sense for sending signals to your joints and muscles to coordinate body awareness and movements as you move your arms to pull out the chair, step in front of the chair, reach for the seat and sit down, scoot the chair forward to the table, and rest your feet firmly on the ground.

    Don’t forget your VESTIBULAR system (part of your inner ear) for telling your brain/body that you are now sitting helping you to balance and to stay upright as you move to sit on that chair!

    Now that you’re safely on your chair, you use your OLFACTORY system to smell the cracker’s (cheesy, salty, spicy) scent which begins to prepare you for what flavor you might expect when it touches down on your tongue!

    Next, you reach down and use your TACTILE sense to touch your cracker, is it grainy and rough? Powdery? Wet (for our Graham cracker dippers)? Are you getting the idea here?! Next, you placed that cracker into your mouth. Did you miss the cracker? Did it go in on the first try? Thank that PROPRIOCEPTIVE sense again!

    Now you are using your GUSTATORY sense to taste that salty/sweet/spicy goodness! Did you let that cracker sit in the middle of your mouth, or were you able to scoop it up with your tongue and bring it over to your teeth to crunch it up? Again, your PROPRIOCEPTIVE sense is at work to move your tongue and push food around your mouth, and to chew.

    Wait, did you HEAR that crunch?! Your AUDITORY sense lets you learn how all different food sound when you take a bite – crunch, crack, squish and splat, and while being prepared, and don’t forget how all of those additional background noises may affect participation in mealtime.

    All of that for just one bite of cracker! 😅It is amazing how all of these senses are linked, and when one does not work properly, another sense will compensate for it. It is important to provide our little ones opportunities to learn using ALL of their senses – especially when we are at the table!

  • Highchair Positioning — What’s the Big Idea?

    When?

    [ 💡] It’s time to start thinking about optimal positioning for success while feeding your little one solid foods, once they have mastered trunk control sufficient for brief independent sitting, stable head control and have been cleared/deemed ready for solids by your pediatrician and/or feeding therapists (please note: we do not recommend presenting solid foods before 4 months of age as per the American Academy of Pediatrics).

    Why?

    [ 💡]  Breathing will always be our bodies’ number one priority – improving positioning for feeding will ensure optimal breath support, which increases the brain’s ability to focus on eating rather than falling!

    [ 💡] Proximal stability = distal mobility ; simply meaning, good strength and core control allows our bodies the ability to coordinate movements outside of our base of support, such as hand to mouth and oral (think lips, jaw, tongue) movements to be able to suckle, suck, chew and/or swallow our foods!

    How?

    [ 💡]  90-90-90 as a general rule! → Look for a 90 degree angle in your little ones’ hips, knees and ankles to ensure optimal stability and support at mealtimes! Ensure the tray or table is sitting between your little one’s belly button and breast to allow for good elbow support!

    What if?

    [ 💡] My little one’s legs are dangling down from their high-chair and my footrest isn’t adjustable? — You can use phone books, yoga blocks, exercise resistance bands, books, pool noodles, empty cardboard boxes stack them up and tape in place when/where your child can achieve that 90 degree positioning at the hips, knees and ankles!

    [ 💡] My little one is slumped in his/her chair? — you can use towels, shelf liner, no skid mats rolled, stacked, folded etc., to add in lateral/side and or back supports to help your child achieve that 90-90-90 alignment !

  • Meet Your Picky, Problem, Growing Eaters at Our Table

    Seed: This is a learning feeder. This child has not yet developed the skills to eat a wide variety of foods by mouth. This feeder may not be ready to place food into their mouth or may be learning to manage purees or their first meltable solids (e.g., puffs). We may see frequent gagging and choking with these friends. We may have difficulty achieving appropriate weight gain and meeting our nutritional content.

    Seedling: This child may have less than 15 foods they eat regularly, may not be able to tolerate new foods on their plate, may present with “behaviors” at the table, may not be able to sit at the table for more than five minutes, may currently eat different meals than the rest of the family, may request/eat the same foods each day, this child may only accept preferred food brands, and may have difficulty describing/navigating foods with new properties/changes.

    Sprout: This child may have less than 30 foods they eat regularly, this child may be emerging with their ability to see, hear, smell, touch, and occasionally taste new foods, this child may need multiple attempts before they can accept a new food into their inventory, this child often may be able to sit at the table for a full meal and may be presented with the same meal as the rest of the family in addition to their current preferred foods, this child may accept modifications to their preferred food brands and items.

    Blossom: This child has mastered a variety of skills including: seeing, hearing smelling, touching and tasting of foods. This child is able to enjoy foods with our basic senses, but can sit in a proper child size seat and physically engage in eating and feeding skills using his/her vestibular and proprioceptive skills. This child can tolerate a wide variety of foods from each food group, but still may require some hands on play and exploration for new foods.