UGH!!!!!!! This has to be a battle that every parent, regardless of a kids learning styles, goes through. Getting your kid to eat. With a kid on the spectrum we know first hand that autistic kids can be picky about the way food is cooked, presented and even eaten. A lot of parents try to give advice saying to just let them go hungry and that they'll eat when they're really hungry. Well, that's kinda true, but we have one of those kids that doesn't like being bothered to eat in the first place, so denying him food seems a bit ridiculous. Then there are the parents that tell us to tell him that if he doesn't eat he loses privileges, well even if I agreed with that logic he'd still fight me. So, we figured out a way to look like were not feeding him while feeding him. It's been tough, but we persevered. And at times when people think we've lost the fight what they don't realize is that we've won in secret way.
We have 4 things we try when our kid decides that food is just not on his list of things that day.
1. The Bird Method
In the morning, I'm never sure if the boy is going to eat or not. It's frustrating. Someday's he likes milk in his cereal. Other days milk if forbidden. Someday's he'll eat oatmeal other days oatmeal is forbidden. It just depends on how he feels that day. Well, we get pretty tired of the cat and mouse game, and absolutely abhor wasting food. So we poor cereal without milk, leave the milk in a cup on the table, leave a bowl of grapes on the table, leave some bread with his meal...on the table, and let him know the food is there on the table. Throughout the morning like clock work our son will eat what's for him on the table. In order for the food to completely disappear I remind him that it is there and to have a bite. He's happy and eats, I'm not ripping my hair out trying to get him to sit for a while meal and eat, missions accomplished.
2. Meal in a Cup Method
I'll be honest we tricked our son for this one....kinda. My husband is vegetarian and loves himself some smoothie. So when Keltanys was younger and had had his first taste of the not so healthy apple juice we convinced our little guy that Smoothies were the same thing. It was a hit. He loves smoothies. Berry smoothies in particular. He'll even take them with carrots, kale, beets, spinach, bananas, apples...pretty much anything that will taste good together he'll take in a smoothie. He gets the nutrients he needs along with vitamin D enriched soy milk, and I don't have to worry about him not getting enough nutrients. He usually gets a cup of smoothie and whatever else he wants with that like a bun, or some homemade chicken nuggets, and homemade french fries.
3. Whatever is Yours is Mine Method (Yes folks encourage the toddler law on this one.)
I don't particularly enjoy this one just because when I'm hungry and have a kid in my face wanting what I've got I get a little primal and shoo them away. But when you have kids, especially ones that won't eat, well you do what you can and suck it up. With this method I fill up one big plate or bowl depending on what your having, and yes you guessed it, share. Sometimes Keltanys will not eat something unless it comes from my plate or his Dad's plate. So for those days when he wants what we have, we grab the big dishes and share. It's not often this happens, but, when it does we don't mind. As long as he eats.
4. The What Works Method
My son, like every child, has foods that are on his, "I can eat these all day everyday day" list. I'll say this right off the bat. We don't use this method often because it sets a bad routine, but for those days when we're on the go it's easy to have the "easy foods on hand. For Keltanys this would include hotdogs, fries, chips, lunchables, popcorn, applesauce, cup of noodles, pretty much processed food. Again we only do this on days where preparing something would take longer than we have, and there aren't that many days where we're that busy.
I hope some of these things work for you. Again every kid is different and you know yours the best so keep trying if my list doesn't work for ya. Tomorrow I will be posting tips on the visual presentation of food for kids with that preference. Mine likes it to look a certain way or it goes to waste.
As always thanks for reading.
Much love and Gratitude,