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Utilizing Appetizers to Introduce New Foods

Holidays can be rough on children with feeding difficulties, and every year around this time, we are thinking through ways to make the holiday food and gathering easier for your children. We have written articles to help with the holidays but wanted to address some ways you can start getting your children ready for the changes in food early. In addition to helping ease children into some holiday differences, these strategies can also be incorporated into the calendar year and give twists on the usual food presentation.

Appetizers, Hors d’oeuvre, Charcuterie boards, snack plates, whatever you want to call them, they all revolve around the idea of a spread of different foods presented in a way where you can choose what you want and how you would like it. This presentation style can be hugely beneficial for many reasons but may need some adaptions for children with feeding difficulties.

First, let’s think about ways you can use an appetizer tray to work for children with feeding difficulties.

  • Less is More: Place 1-2 proteins (nuts or deli meat), 1-2 starches (crackers, veggie straws), Fruit/Vegetable (dried fruit, freeze-dried fruit, carrot sticks). But you don’t’ need to overwhelm the plate with options.
  • Plenty of Preferred: Make sure there are 1-2 preferred foods on the appetizer plate, so your child immediately sees something that works for their body
  • Choose a plate/tray that helps separate or use bowls to divide.
  • If you’re feeling creative, use the food to create something visually interesting and playful.

Here are some examples that may work for your child.

Reasons Why This Can Help:

First, as the adult, you are presenting a variety of foods while allowing the children to engage or enter into the Steps to Eating at the level where they are most ready. For some children, just visually having the foods in the middle of the table will be all they can do. For others, they may see a color or shape that interests them. Maybe how the food is arranged catches their eye or their cognitive interest. But you have visually exposed them to new foods, which is often one of the hardest steps. 

Second, you are showing them that preferred foods and non-preferred foods can be close together and still be ok. This may need to be said to some children, and others may naturally learn on their own. For example, they can see their preferred crackers next to some non-preferred cheese and choose to still eat the preferred cracker. Maybe your child will have a harder time with the proximity, so you can present the foods in a muffin tin, as we mentioned above. Seeing foods close to each other and watching adults model choices can empower children to learn about new foods and encourage problem-solving. Using authentic exploration as an adult of food combinations can greatly empower a child who is still learning to explore.

And finally, using trays and arrangement of foods helps get us out of the ordinary routine, which is why we as adults sometimes love the holidays. But for kids, the change in routine is more difficult. So, bring out a party platter, appetizer board, or veggie tray at dinner. Let your child experience the novelty, exploration, problem-solving, and hopefully fun, all while slowly preparing their bodies for holiday parties and get-togethers later in the month.

View the exciting update from Feeding Matters on the newly approved Pediatric Feeding Disorder diagnostic code…

More than a symptom, pediatric feeding disorder now has its own diagnosis.

Pediatric feeding disorder (PFD) has been officially approved by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to be a stand-alone diagnostic code (R code) in the next edition of the U.S. International Classification of Diseases (ICD) on October 1, 2021.

PFD will finally be a recognized condition rather than a symptom that is seen as transient. The ICD-10 code will allow physicians to diagnose the condition, thus warranting specialized service to treat the condition. With the launch of this code, we want to know:

What do you need to understand and use the code? How can Feeding Matters help?

Contact Feeding Matters at [email protected] and let them know!

Feeding Matters will use your feedback to publish a PFD ICD-10 Toolkit so you are ready to use the PFD ICD-10 code in October. We are thrilled to partner with you to create a better world for children with PFD!

PFD ICD-10 Toolkit

Understanding Picky Eaters and Problem Feeders

Are all children picky?

Many parents have been told by well-meaning professionals that they do not need to be worried about their child’s eating habits. However, it is not true that all children are picky.  Nor is it true that they will all outgrow it. Keep reading to learn more about what we know about Picky Eaters.

Parent/Caregiver Workshop

This 2-hour Workshop will teach Parents and Caregivers about the foundational skills needed for eating. Practical Strategies are discussed so Parents and Caregivers can help their children learn to have a lifelong healthy relationship with food. This Workshop will be addressing common feeding issues often seen in young children, to struggles that “picky eaters” may have, and the challenges of the “problem feeder”.

Why we don’t use the ARFID diagnosis

ARFID is a diagnosis that the American Psychiatric Association created in 2013 to replace the old diagnosis referred to as Feeding Disorder of Infancy and Early Childhood. Read more about the challenges with this new diagnosis and what diagnosis we prefer instead.

Why You May See Increased Feeding Challenges During Times of Stress or Change

When children and their families are undergoing major changes in their lives, whether this is related to stress or a positive life event, any child’s eating or feeding can be easily disrupted. Read about the 4 main issues and learn strategies to get your family back on track

Setting Your Family Up for Success

Preventing Picky Eating: Strategies to help your family get back on track

This quick article outlines our first three recommendations for almost any family who comes in for a feeding assessment. Watch how these three strategies start to shift mealtimes at your home.

How do I accept food waste when implementing a pressure-free approach?

Learning about new foods doesn’t need to be wasteful; learning and exploring food is never a waste. It’s valuable time for your child or student to have with food regardless of what level of learning or exploring they are at. Keep reading for some strategies to help reduce food waste while supporting a child in learning to eat. 

Great advice when introducing those first baby foods to your little one!

We found some great advice in the baby food aisle at the grocery store!

Tips for Picky Eaters and Problem Feeders

Managing Stressful Times with a Picky Eater or Problem Feeder

Learn how stress and adrenaline can wreak havoc with your child’s appetite and make mealtimes more challenging, as well as strategies to support your child and family.

Utilizing Appetizers to Introduce New Foods

Understand how appetizer plates can help support kids in learning to explore new foods and get inspired to try a new strategy out in your home!

Kitchen Tools to Support Oral Motor Skill Development

There are many kitchen tools we love and use in therapy. The best part is that they are generally everyday tools that you already have in your own kitchens, and they transform the way kids can engage in food. And we aren’t talking about just knives and forks.

Need New Ideas to Help Expose Your Child to New Foods?

A common concern parents share is that it can be hard to expose your child to new foods, especially if they aren’t able to eat meals at the same time with the family or if they are reluctant to even being in the same room with you if you are eating something different. Here are a few simple ideas that you can start incorporating tonight!

Supporting Your Child’s Posture for Meals (and Schoolwork)

Postural stability is an essential aspect of your child’s learning, whether they are learning how to eat, learning about new foods, or learning about math! It supports your child not only at mealtimes but also for online school and homework. Learn how to adapt your child’s chair to provide stability and watch meals, and schoolwork, get a little bit easier.

Planning for School Lunches

With a little bit of planning, you can help set your child up for success during meals and snacks at school.

Seasons and Holiday Tips

Pack a Little Protein into those Sweets this Valentine’s Day

Valentines Day is fast approaching and your children’s sweet tooths are starting to ache.  So instead of fighting with the sugar season, how about adding some protein, fruit, and veggies to those treats and feel a little better about what’s on the plate.

Valentine’s Day Strategies for Picky Eaters

Holidays can be tough on kids – keep reading to learn why and make a plan to make this holiday go a little more smoothly!

How are you celebrating St. Patrick’s Day?

Keep reading for some fun food ideas with a rainbow theme!

Pickles and Popsicles –  Fun with Summertime Food

Gardening and making something to freeze are both awesome summer activities! There is something so curious and intriguing about watching food grow and then watching it transform.  Some of the best learning about food happens in these natural, unforced environments.

Fall Fun with Apples (and Pears!)

Check out this article with some great ideas to introduce your child to apples and pears.

Strategies for a Happier Halloween with your Picky Eater

Learn why holidays can be so difficult for your child, and help set them up for success!

Exploring Holiday Foods

The grocery store can be filled with all sorts of seasonal fruits and vegetables, as well as holiday-themed packaged foods. Choosing something unfamiliar can be a fun learning experience for the whole family! Check out this article for more ideas on how to use the novelty of the changing seasons to help your family learn about new foods!

Winter Fun in Food School!

Have you ever wondered what feeding therapy using the SOS Approach to Feeding looks like? Take a peek at some of our sessions this week.

Fun with Food

Exploring Holiday Foods

The holidays can provide great opportunities for kids to explore and learn about new foods. There are many fun play ideas that go around the various holidays, and lots of fun, seasonal foods to explore, too!

Fun Food Books to Explore with your Child

Sometimes, learning about new foods during a meal is just too hard, especially if everyone is stressed. Sometimes, even getting your child to the table for meals can be hard. One way around this is to start conversations around food, separate from mealtimes (without the pressure to eat or taste it).

Pull Up a Seat in the Garden

We want to talk about gardening as the therapeutic table we can set for our kids be it in the summer or even all year long.  Here are some helpful tips and ways to engage your kids even if you yourself are a novice gardener.

Quick Recipes with High Calories and Nutrition

Check out these fun, kid-friendly recipes for fudge and milkshakes (both with dairy-free options) that have some great nutrition and easy to consume calories!

Oatmeal Banana Cookies

These simple cookies come together very quickly and only require a few pantry staples – and use up those spotty bananas! This is a very kid-friendly recipe, so it is okay if the measurements aren’t exact. Make sure you try out the Food Scientist Tips at the bottom to personalize them!


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