• TOMATO – 20 Ways to Play

    1. Make your own salsa – Make sure your little one is as involved in the preparation as is age-appropriate for them!
    2. Build a ladybug with cherry tomatoes and black olive pieces OR use large tomato slices as wings for a butterfly!
    3. Try a farmers’ Market scavenger hunt to find different tomatoes and colors 
    4. Read “Too Many Tomatoes” and write notes to share with others along with a basket of tomatoes 
    5. Scoop out the inside of tomatoes and use them as bowls 
    6. Count how many seeds you can find in a tomato 
    7. Make kebabs with cherry tomatoes and your choice of toppings 
    8. Play “hot tomato” to the tune of “hot potato”
    9. Grow your own potted tomato plant 
    10. Bob for tomatoes in the summer heat (use large tomatoes )
    11. Make your own tomato shapes with cookie cutters! 
    12. Craft a tomato with a paper plate and crayons, markers, or paint!
    13. Feeling extra creative? Use tomato juices to make your own paint for your tomato craft or for any artwork!
    14. Play “Find the Tomato.” Use three cups and hide the tomato under one! Mix them up and guess where it ends up! 
    15. Cut up your tomatoes or use cherry tomatoes to practice making letters! Arrange letters to learn about sounds like “t” for “tomato! 
    16. Play “red light, green light.” Elect one person to be “it” and go back and forth between green and red tomatoes being held up high. When green is in the air, run! When red is in the air, STOP!
    17. Make your own pizzas and spread that tomato sauce together!
    18. Tomato sauce face paint – can you both make a silly clown nose? Why not some red lipstick? How about a polk-a-dot tongue!
    19. Squeeze a tomato together and sample fresh tomato juice? Is it sour? Sweet? Tart?
    20. Expose, Expose, Expose! Remember, consistency is key!
  • Deconstruct to Instruct – TACO EDITION


    🤔 Wondering what this strategy is all about? This is a simple, yet effective way to help little ones that are learning how to master eating a variety of food all mixed together! This can sometimes be a challenge as mixed food may be overwhelming visually, by smell and taste or may even be a challenge for them to chew at first! Hence, let’s deconstruct these mixed foods to instruct our little ones!

    ✅ We recommend following these six steps across a week or two in time!

    – Step one: introduce each ingredient (shell, meat, cheese, lettuce, salsa, etc.) separately and not in the same meal

    – Step two: gradually introduce two foods (separated) on the same plate during a meal time
    – Step three: serve all foods on the same plate (separated) during a meal time
    – Step four: serve all foods with two having a connection (meat on a tortilla shell, salsa on lettuce)
    – Step five: provide a small portion of all foods mixed together on the same plate as a regular meal (a regular meal with a mini taco on the side)
    – Step six: serve a full taco!

    🚨 Keep in mind, this strategy is meant to assist with exposure and comfort with mixed textures. It is important for you to model these steps at the same time as your child as this is crucial to the “instruct” piece. When you interact with the food in this progression, you have the opportunity to teach them that salsa is spicy or that putting cheese on hot meat can make it melt! 

  • 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!