A few hints!
by Anna Hale
Divided plates are your friend! Having said that it has taken a long time for my child to even tolerate anything on her plate even with the divider. I started by putting new foods on a matching separate plate. I would put her butter noodles in a Tinkerbell bowl and then apples on a Tinkerbell plate near her bowl. My child will gag at the sight of new foods so I would place it very far away for a short time initially and then closer and closer for longer periods of time as she tolerated it.
Dim the lights! They can't pick out what they can't see. Sometimes I will put a candle at the table instead of the overhead light and we have a "fancy" dinner. I am sure there are many kids like mine who can still identify very tiny things in spite of the dimmed lights but this does help.
Eat outside. This helps my daughter tremendously. Sometimes even when I am feeding her something she likes but the rest of us are eating something that is difficult for her she is unable to eat her food because of the smell of our food! Eating outside seems to help this problem
No Stress Eating. Our daughter began to have anxiety problems because of food. We decided to totally take the pressure off by allowing her to leave the table whenever she needed. We do have rules. She must ask politely to leave the table. She must play quietly while the rest of us eat. She may not have an evening snack if she chooses not eat dinner. The last rule is always the hardest for me to keep. I never want my baby to go to bed hungry however I do think it has been the most helpful rule. Prior to this rule she almost never ate dinner with us. She would gag and could not tolerate the rest of us eating near her. Now she has figured out how to tolerate the other foods. She turns away, looks down at her plate only, eats quickly, etc. These are important things for her to learn since she will be eating in cafeteria with other children eventually. I have also altered my cooking to help her. I try not to make very fragrant meals when we are going to have a family meal (3-4 times a week) On nights when husband gets home late, I feed the kids earlier and I make things that would bother her but that we like. I feel this is a good compromise that respects her and still challenges her to make forward progress.
I hope these tips help someone! I feel I could right a book of my own at this point!!