6 Genius Ways Autism Moms Get Their Kids to Eat

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I recently asked members of my Autism Parent Tribe:

What's the best thing you've done to get your skeptical eater to eat new foods?

Read their answers below!

6 Ways Autism Moms Get Their Kids to Eat

Tip 1

My 6 year old loves to help with cooking meals 👨🏼‍🍳and I found this makes a difference so he can see how meals are made and [we can] explain why they are good for him.

Why this works

Research shows that kids are more interested in eating when they are involved in some step of food prep - cooking, meal planning, and grocery shopping all count. Beyond that, cooking provides valuable life skills and enhances knowledge about food and nutrition, which further increase incentive to eat!


Tip 2

We started giving her ranch more often and because she likes dipping things sometimes. We started having her brother share snacks with her away from the table because she's more likely to eat away that way and if she sees him eating.


Why this works

So many good things going on here! First, kids love dips! Dipping is fun, but it also gives them some control in their meal. You’re deciding what they eat, but they’re deciding what to dip, how, how many times, etc. Second, here the dip is serving as a familiar food that makes other (maybe less preferred foods) more approachable.

Finally, kids are strongly influenced by how their family and friends eat. Siblings can be powerful role models. Because kids learn so much from eating by watching others eat, shared meals can play a big part in improving eating issues.



Tip 3

Make a ridiculously big deal out of even the smallest bite. "Yooouuu did it!!" Complete with jazz hands and clapping. Who ever is around has to participate. 😂


Why this works

Who doesn’t like being celebrated for doing a good job? It’s true, but this form of praise or positive reinforcement is huge for helping to improve eating behaviors! Very enthusiastic verbal praise and recognition like this highlights how wonderful the behavior was and encourages the child to repeat it. I recommend parents do this all of the time in my program.



Tip 4

The Smell, Kiss, Lick, Taste method: first time we look t the food, hold it, and SMELL. We're like yeah, that's 😎cool. Next time I ask him to just KISS it 💋 next time, a LICK. If NOT, he can just hold it for me. Lastly I ask for a a small TASTE usually a "nibble like a bunny" would do.

Just having him "rip the kale for me? " or "cut up this radish? " has helped a ton.

For highly sensory kids, they're like ratatouille... They can know a food, just from its smell, from a mile away


Why this works

I am all about this! This mom is working on desensitization and food exposure - two techniques that help kids feel more comfortable eating and meeting new foods. And she’s making food fun! Any hands-on exposures to food primes the sensory system and prepares a child to eat. Beyond that, working through the senses of smelling, kissing, licking, and tasting is like easing into the water instead of jumping right on it. They’re the stepping stones to eating. These are great techniques if your child avoids trying to new foods or struggles with sensory food aversions.



Tip 5

Nothing.. not look at all, ignore the whole thing. Mine ate spaghetti noodles with ketchup when no one was looking. This does not always work and depends on what is served.


Why this works

Kids feel the pressure to eat. Even if you’re not saying anything, they know it’s there. Taking the focus away from eating frees the child to eat without expectation. Plus, pressure to eat and cause anxiety, which is an appetite suppressant.


Tip 6

We always start new stuff on weekends, because he gets HANGRY if he doesn't eat though the school day. Once it's established over a few servings, I always try to give him the newer food on a Sunday night, and then again as a side or snack on that next Monday. By Tuesday his ASD butt will have forgotten he even likes it!


Why this works

The weekend is a great low-pressure time to introduce new food to your child with autism. You don’t have to worry about him being hungry or how he’ll do in school. You’re less likely to be rushed and stressed. Instead, you can take your time learning about and trying the food. It’s a great opportunity for food play, exploration, and cooking.

This momma picked up on the need for multiple exposures. Kids might need to “meet” a new food over 20 times before readily accepting it as part of their diet. Patience and repeated exposures are key!




Recap

No one knows autism kids like their moms. These tips such as making food fun, getting kids in the kitchen, providing positive feedback, and leveraging the modeling power of siblings can go a long way in helping kids with autism eat.


Homework

Can you incorporate any of these tried and true techniques at home?



The exact approach that have helped my clients see immediate results - in an easy-to-read guide.

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