There are millions of gimmicks and tricks out there to “GET” your child to eat new foods. The problem is that they often (aka nearly always) don’t work because they are imposing an external force on your child. These gimmicks are treating eating like a behaviour we need to manipulate from an outside perspective. Eating is actually INTERNAL. We can’t address it in the same way as other parenting concerns. We need to help our children learn about eating and meet them where they are. BUT, as a busy mum too, I get it! How can we even begin to get out of this rut of eating the same beige carbs? How do you get your child to eat new foods?
I designed this placemat based on my clinical experience with extreme picky eaters and my own #mumlife experience. Marrying up the best feeding research into my daily grind has NOT been easy. I can 100% vouch for the fact that the effort to organise meals and trust my children to eat is a huge amount of unseen work in my life – AND IN YOURS. So, when I talk parents through how to structure, prepare and reframe their mealtimes to achieve goals of more vegetables, more iron-sources, more fruits or more mixed texture family meals, we come up with the same hurdles.
The hurdles to making in-roads to happy mealtimes and broader dietary repertoire are always the same. It is hard to trust that the child will eat enough. Trust that the child will eventually pick up the vegetables and eat them. It’s hard to always bite our tongue and avoid “if this… then that” phrases. It is hard to sit at the table and not watch what they put in their mouth. It is hard to avoid going back to old bribery-based habits. AND the clincher, it is SOOOOO hard to try NOT talking about the food. And if they do eat something new, it’s hard again to avoid popping open the champagne and swing from the chandeliers in happiness (cue: huge amount of pressure on the kids to do it again – they’ll find it easier just to go back to avoiding the foods.)
Yes, it’s hard work. We are emotionally hard wired to want to nourish our child and it can feel really weird to believe in the trust model, especially when there are more factors at play than typically developmentally appropriate food cautiousness.
So, here’s what I have got for you. It’s a physical prompt. A placemat. This is your gentle reminder that your child can trust their bodies and your reminder that you’ve definitely got what it takes to stick to what the best feeding research has to say on the matter. You don’t just get a placemat in the mail though.
You get a family video that takes you through the wonderful story of my kangaroo friend, his quest to learn about new foods, the starfish that calms him down and the learning stars that watch over him gently. This story is laden with feeding therapy based coping strategies, ways to help children express their true feelings about food and it gives them ways to self-enact coping strategies while they are learning about new foods. My story is appropriate from 2 – 9 year olds.
On top of this, you get a parent video on coping strategies you can use and all the language swaps you need to help your child emulate their new kanagroo friend and become a fantastic food learner.
Will you need this placemat forever and at every meal? NO! This is a stepping stone product. This means that I envisage you using it very consistently at first (consistency really is the ticket with kids). You will then start to wean away from using it as your child’s dietary repertoire increases and you see that they are mastering their learning experience. After a while, you may only have to get it out for the new lasagne that is on offer or a new chicken stew. The aim is for this placemat to be the visual prompt to build your child’s skills, and that reduces your family’s reliance on food talk at mealtimes.
This also partners well with my more in depth video bundle Positive Food Talk with Kids that I have co-hosted with Accredited Practicing Dietitian, Meg McClintock. And if you need more parent support, I work with a fantastic team of specialists delivering support to you at Your Feeding Team.