I was a picky eater. I spent the majority of my childhood in staring competitions at the dinner table with my father. I still have to take 4 more bites of my meat loaf before I can go to Angie’s birthday party. It was a rough childhood. And it makes the fact that I am crazy obsessed with feeding therapy very ironic.
Get excited people! Let’s talk about food! Introducing food is tricky. As moms we get little to no guidance. Just the “Go ahead and give them baby food” from our pediatrician. I am a feeding therapist and I panicked. Freaked out. What am I supposed to feed him?! How much should he eat?! How will I know if someone slipped rat poison into jar of baby food?! You know, normal mom worries.
I know I have stated it before, but I will say it again. Becoming a mom has made me so much better at my job. Hank became my most intense patient. He was introduced to new foods with a very specific sensory approach and a food hierarchy was very carefully followed. And then it got real. I gave him solid food. A puff. And he gagged. I was sure he was going to choke to death. Been there? Yep. Me too, friend. What did I do wrong? Nothing? No, I skipped something really important: celery and Slim Jims.
I know. Most of you just checked out. But stay with me for a minute. Celery and Slim Jims belong to a group of foods called munchables. Munchables are types of foods that can be gnawed on for almost ever and really only give off residual taste, and tiny bits of food that any baby can swallow. Munchables should actually be introduced at the same time as purees. Celery and Slim Jims are stick shaped foods that fit right back on those molars (or as I like to call them, crunchers) and teach those little mouths to munch. What else? It decreases the gag reflex while also introducing new flavors kiddos aren’t getting from baby food. Make sure to use a whole piece of celery and a long Slim Jim (or any meat stick if your kids aren’t too picky about their meat brands). Giving them one that is only a few inches long is choking hazard, so don’t do it.
You have an older kid who won’t eat anything? Celery and Slim Jims work for that too. They don’t need to eat it, just let them gnaw away. It’s good for sensory, strength, and just plain tolerating new foods.
I could go on and on about the benefits of munchables, but that would make me a dork. And also, the little man sitting in his high chair next to me has thrown his celery stick across the room. So I gotta go.
More feeding questions? Well…there will be plenty of more blog posts about feeding. Trust me. But in the meantime feel free to email me! Or if you are concerned about your little one’s eating habits and you live in the Sioux Falls area, join me for one of my FREE parent training classes! Email me for details! firstname.lastname@example.org