Nicki Coates' son wouldn't eat much as an infant. She struggled to find answers from the experts and was naturally worried about his health. Shortly after Toby's first birthday, Nicki found a food therapist who helped him go from extremely picky to chef/food critic.
Nicki and Adam's journey to support Toby has now helped hundreds of parents. Fear and anxiety grows in children who can't meet their parent's expectations around food and it can form a viscous cycle.
These four steps are recommended in Nicki's app, Learn Play Eat.
Nicki walks you through her journey in the video. Here are the four steps she covers:
Step 1 - Nutrition
To take the pressure off, Nicki and Adam went to a Doctor to find out what essentials Toby was missing in his diet. A blood test revealed some deficiencies and they found kids smoothies to supplement his diet. "If he came to the table and only wanted bread, that was OK, because I knew he had the rest of his nutrition from the smoothies," Nicki said.
Nicki's parental guilt subsided when she found out that she could provide the nutrients needed, without pressure at the dinner table. And that gave room to help Toby start feeling safe around food.
Step 2 - Feeling Safe
The next step is to educate yourself on which feeding therapies are going to be right for your child. A feeding therapist can help you identify whether your picky eater is challenged mechanically (core/jaw strength), psychologically, or both.
Step 3 - Playing with Food
Then it's time to implement the new games to help address your child's needs. There are several different processes you can use, but most revolve around getting to know the food (e.g. talking to it), building up to touching it, then touching it on their lips before chewing and then swallowing it.
Step 4 - New Experiences
While the child is building their 'food vocab', they can further increase their relationship with it by trying new experiences like finding out how to grow it. Learning how to cook and watching food movies are also great ways to improve their experience with food.