• 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.

  • 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.