The structure of the mealtime environment can have a major impact on a child’s eating behavior. Overall, strive for a positive environment that is predictable and supportive. To optimize the environment, consider implementing the following:
- Schedule regular meals for the family. Have everyone remain seated at the table for the duration of the meal.
- Avoid grazing. Offer only water between meals and snacks. This will support a regular hunger-satiation pattern and may help lead to increased daily food consumption.
- Minimize auditory and visual distractions at mealtime by turning the television off and keeping toys away from the table.
- Try limiting meals to 30 minutes and snacks to 10-15 minutes.
- Do not rush through meals. Your child may need extra time given their developing self-feeding skills.
- Mealtime is meant to be a social experience. Talk with your child about the food you are eating, ask him questions about his day, or discuss his favorite things.
- Be sure that your child’s seating allows free use of hands to encourage self-feeding.
- Model positive feeding behaviors for your child throughout the meal.
Chatterboxes offers quality Speech-Language & Occupational Therapy in Boston, MA. We also offer flexible service options for your family. Call us today at 617-969-8255 or visit us at 121 Mt Vernon St, Boston, MA 02108.