(Knoxville, TN, USA)
My daughter, now 3.5 years old, is a very picky eater. Despite what people said, "she will eat when she's hungry" and "no child will willingly starve to death," my daughter was diagnosed failure to thrive. Basically she was headed toward starvation and malnutrition. So, it is absolutely NOT true what those well-meaning people said about my picky eater. Fortunately, we have an AWESOME pediatrician who did not allow us to go very long without help.
My daughter started a feeding therapy group under the guidance of a speech therapist and an occupational therapist. It was awesome for her and for me! I learned so much about eating and the myths associated with picky eaters. One thing that really helped introduce my daughter to different foods was what they called a "therapeutic snack." Basically, this is a snack consisting of about 4-5 different foods. Each snack started with a food that was easy for all the children to eat, such as crackers or Goldfish. Then they would introduce a new food after each child ate their Goldfish. The new food would only be different in one way: shape, texture or color. So, if you start with some Goldfish, the next food could be a small slice of uncooked carrot (still small, crunchy and orange). The next food could change in texture,color or shape so possibly a Cheetoh (different shape, but same color and texture). Then add a line of peach yogurt in the same shape as the Cheetoh (but still orange in color) to the child's plate since it is similar in shape and in color but a very different texture.
In therapy they worked their way through many different textures, colors, and shapes until my daughter was trying so many new things. We did these therapeutic snacks with her at home too and she did well with them. It can be very overwhelming for a child with defensiveness (oral, visual, tactile, olfactory, etc.) to overcome food aversions because eating requires every human sense. So the idea behind the therapeutic snack is to lessen the number of changes and hopefully lessen the defensiveness enough to encourage your child to try new things. It worked for us!
Eating is still a daily struggle in our home, but I'm much more educated and armed to help my daughter. And, when my daughter has had several days without eating well, we can still count on PediaSure for survival!
Thanks for this website!!!