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Tag: eating

Mealtime Wiggles

So frequently do I hear “my kid takes a bite to eat then leaves the table” or “my kid can’t sit still throughout his entire meal” creating a lengthy meal time and impacting positive mealtime dynamics. Here’s come tips and tricks for getting your child to sit for longer durations:

  • LOTS of heavy work right before meal time!
    • Helps get extra energy out right before having to sit down
    • Bear walks, wheelbarrow walks, rolling child up in a blanket like a burrito and then unrolling MANY times, frog hops, running and crashing into pillows/ blankets over and over, crawling over pillows/ blankets/ couch cushions thrown unevenly onto floor, inchworms, belly on ball arm walkouts, lifting or pushing heavy baskets
  • Wiggle cushion
    • Round or inclined textured cushions can help provide movement even while seated (can be purchased  on Amazon)
    • Can also place cushion on floor for child to stand and move on while remaining at table.
  • Weighted blanket or lap pad while seated; weighted shoulder wrap (also available on Amazon )
  • Boundary to maintain near table, even if not sitting.
    • Try a chair with arms on it
    • Provide painters tape boundary on floor for child to remain in during meal. Start off bigger and make boundary smaller as the child displays readiness. Be strict on maintaining in boundary area throughout meal.
    • Can provide sensory movement items in this area.
  • Thera-band wrapped around chair leg
    • Child can push legs/feet to fidget on band while sitting
  • Allow child to stand and eat if that’s what is needed to remain near table
  • Wobble stool (available on Amazon)
    • Only use if child has enough core stability and safety awareness
    • Ensure table height matches with chair height
    • Better for older children
  • Stabilize those little feet!
    • Stabilizing the feet will help to stabilize the core. When our core is not stable, our attention is overall decreased and chewing can become a chore.
  • Textures or fidgets
    • Attach velcro textures under table or chairs
    • Special “meal only” fidgets to play with and only while sitting or standing right at table
  • List of discussion topics for family to engage in
    • Talk about feelings  throughout day, favorite/ worst moments
    • Distraction is a great way to enhance attention
  • Have child walk around with weighted backpack for up to x20 minutes prior to meal
    • Can wear while helping set table
  • Timer
    • See how long the child can tolerate sitting, then lengthen the timer just a bit longer. When sitting for timer duration is easily attainable for child, adjust timer for a slightly longer time frame.

*Strategies may take multiple attempts to see change. Keep trying and be consistent!

*Some strategies may work, and some may not. That is okay! Find what is right for your child.

If your child is having trouble sitting still during mealtimes, during free time playing at home, in the school setting, and overall seeking extra movement from same aged peers or siblings don’t hesitate to give us a call. BDI Playhouse Children’s Therapy offers free screenings and consultations through Telehealth or at one of our child-friendly therapy gyms in Orland Park and Aurora, IL.

Written by: Rebecca MacKenzie, M.S., OTR/L

Undistracted eating- Meals without the iPad

It has become a common occurrence to see a child on an iPad while out to eat, and often enough we hear families telling stories about iPads at meals. We get it. It is hard! Kids don’t want to sit still; kids don’t want to eat right now; my kid is super picky; there’s more than one kid to take care of so the iPad acts as a babysitter. The reasons go on and the iPad makes these small parts of the day run a little bit smoother. But here are some important reasons why undistracted eating is best and tips how to try and ditch that iPad altogether while at the table. 

  • Promotes obesity OR child may not be eating enough
    • When deeply focusing on the iPad it is common to robotically continue to place food into our mouths without realizing just how much food we’ve eaten. Adults do it too!
    • Children may become SO distracted they minimally eat anything at all! Later you find them irritable and “always hungry”, as some parents report.
    • This impacts a child’s ability to listen to cues from their body (interoception) on when they feel full,  if they are still hungry, or if they need a drink of water. This is SO important! Lack of attending to our body cues can begin to impact our emotional awareness and control.
  • Promotes poor posture
    • Increases risk of future musculoskeletal problems such as back and neck pain due to leaning position
    • Carry over poor seated posture to school and play
    • Increases choking risk due to decreased attending to oral feedback telling us we’ve chewing enough times prior to swallowing and poor posture impacting alignment of swallowing mechanisms impacting ease of food movement down to tummy
  • Decreases social interactions
    • Discourages learning about others, asking questions about the world, discussing our emotions, working on back and forth conversations, discussing foods presented on plate
  • Minimizes exploration with foods 
    • “Well my kid is picky anyways…”, but that is okay!! (and may actually be a result from all the table iPad use)
    • Kid gets busy touching iPad and not exploring or playing with the food options
    • When a child gets “bored” sitting at the table they will be encouraged to fidget with anything…including food. Encourage this, even if it doesn’t get eaten.
  • But what can I do besides an iPad?
    • Fun plates (Amazon “kids maze plates)
    • Silly utensils (sometimes comes with the plates and can be found on Amazon)
    • Specified “table toys” if they absolutely need something to do while eating (especially out at restaurants)
    • List of questions to discuss with parents or siblings (best/worst part of day, what else do I want to do today…)
    • Exploring then reporting the senses of each food – smell, lick/taste, color, visual presentation (bumpy, smooth, fluffy…) and
    • comparing one strawberry to another one, feel (wet/dry, tough/soft…)
    • If you haven’t started providing an iPad at meals, don’t start it!! Even if the older sibling is stuck on the iPad at meals use. Eliminating 1 iPad will be better than having to eliminate 2.
    • If your child has trouble rapidly transitioning to no iPads at meals, then start gradually. Start with only half the meal where they can have the iPad, then decrease that time length every day until they can tolerate no iPad throughout the entire meal.

If your child absolutely cannot separate themselves from having an iPad at meal times even when attempting the above listed suggestions, has a tough time transitioning away from iPads in general, or displays additional difficulties with feeding with or without an ipad present don’t hesitate to give us a call. BDI Playhouse Children’s Therapy offers free screenings and consultations through Telehealth or at one of our child-friendly therapy gyms in Orland Park and Aurora, IL

Written by: Rebecca MacKenzie, M.S., OTR/L