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Learning to Eat

In August last year, I attended SOS (Sequential Oral Sensory) Approach to Feeding training.  This training really helped me polish up the activities in my fruit and vegetable classes.  It gave me a good foundation to see the difference between normal feeding development (including developmental related fussiness) and feeding problems. The other major benefit to this training was to find a wonderful network of feeding therapy professionals including, dietitians, occupational therapists, speech pathologists, nutritionists, children’s psychologists and pediatric nurses.

Learning to eat is complex.  It can take 2 – 3 years to learn to eat.  Eating is NOT an automatic behavior – it is a LEARNT behaviour.  Learning to eat is a journey for the senses, the physical body, the imagination, the memory and it happens about 5 times a day from the day we are born. Feeding therapy is usually sought for children who are not progressing on their feeding journey via the typical milestones.   What I have learnt in my experience and training is that there is not a one-size-fits-all when it comes to helping children on their learning to eat journey.   It can take some collaboration to get it right.

As Accredited Practicing Dietitian, Dr Denise Stapleton, explained to me,  “When the credits rollout at the end of a film we are reminded about the large number of different skills that were needed to produce it. Similarly, in order to make it possible for eating and family mealtimes to be harmonious, insights from many perspectives might be needed.” Dr Stapleton finds that when she combines her skill sets with those of others they achieve more than is possible on their own.  “When skilled occupational therapists, speech pathologists, dietitians, physiotherapists, clinical psychologists, social workers, nurses and doctors connect and holistically support families, mealtimes can become pleasurable for all involved.”  

Ultimately, if you are concerned about your child’s eating and their journey’s direction, remember that there are many professionals that can assist because there are many factors that influence the eating journey.   The best place to start looking for assistance is often with a GP, especially if children are not on the typical growth chart trajectory.  For more general questions about your child’s eating journey have a chat to Simone.

Incorporating a host of information from a variety of disciplines is key to the success of the Play with Food programs.  When you walk in the door you get a cross-functional experience and you have a table of resources available to you to reference.

A variety of resources are made available for carers to enhance their play with food experiences.

A variety of resources are made available for carers to enhance their play with food experiences.


Dr Denise Stapleton has teamed up with occupational therapist, Gillian Griffiths, to write a book called SENSE-ational Mealtimes. Children, parents, caregivers and clinicians find the sensory preference information that they share throughout the book to be an important missing piece of their mealtime difficulties puzzle.  This is a link to their website.  http://www.sense-ationalmealtimes.com.au SM_sense-ational-mealtimes-book_Cover

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