Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Modify the Mealtime Environment: Feeding Strategies

Modify the Mealtime Environment

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.

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