Feeding & Mealtimes

When should I choose this area of focus for my Gabadoo?

Did you know that research shows that 1 out of 5 kids will struggle with eating at some point up to the age of 7 years old & unfortunately, only half will grow out of their feeding challenges without some support (Twomey, 2016).

Although feeding problems can often look more like a problem with your child's behaviour, they are often as a result of a skill deficit. Eating is a highly complex daily task! It is actually the only physical task that your child will do which simultaneously uses of their muscles, their organs and their 8 sensory systems. So therefore, lots of different things can actually impact on your child's ability to sit at a table, participate in meal-times and eat a variety of foods. Our Gabadoo Team are experienced at working with families who are experiencing feeding or meal-time difficulties, we can support you through an individualised Gaba Plan. 

How do I know if my child needs support around feeding?

Let's see if you can describe your child's feeding or your families meal-time participation with any of the below statements, if so, definitely worth getting some strategies from our Gabadoo Team. Not everything is listed here and our team can support you in lots of different areas relating to feeding. 

As a family, we don't have a routine or structure around meal-times so it can be chaotic and hard to settle everyone at the table. 

As a family, we need guidance around how to create a calm atmosphere at meal-times.

My child has trouble sitting at the table for meal-times or trouble sitting in their high-chair for meal-times.

My child tends to cry or become anxious when a new food is put on their plate.

My child has been described as a picky eater at a developmental check-up.

My child is finding it difficult to transition from bottle to cup. 

My child is 10 months & is finding it hard to transition to baby food purees.

My child is over 12 months and doesn't accept any solid foods.

My child is 16 months old and is only eating pureed baby foods.

My child finds it difficult to eat in a variety of different settings e.g. creche, preschool, school, childminders or other people's houses.

Meal-times are a very stressful time for our family.

My child eats less than 20 different foods.

My child finds it hard to look, touch, taste, smell or chew new foods.

My child eats separate meals to the rest of the family.

My child only eats foods of a specific brand and is very particular about how foods are prepared. 

My child eats a food for awhile and then eliminates it from their diet. 

I need guidance around choosing feeding utensils to suit my child including cups, spoons, drink bottles, bowls and cutlery. 

Important to Note:

There is another area of focus specifically for oral motor skills so although this is a very important area of feeding, we have it as a separate area on Gabadoo so our team can give it the time it needs. To learn more about oral motor skills, read this blog here to give you more guidance. 

If you are only looking for support around helping your child to understand their body sensations around food (i.e. when they are full or hungry), there is a separate area of focus for sensory processing that should be more appropriate. 

There is also a separate area of focus for fine motor skills so if your are mainly looking for guidance around your child's ability to pick up small foods, manipulate a spoon or hold a cup rather than their feeding skills, select fine motor skills as your area of focus. 

MUST READ:
If your child is presenting with any of the below symptoms, Gabadoo is not suitable to support your child's feeding skills. We advise that you link with your service provider or contact your family doctor/G.P to raise your concerns and seek support. We also do not offer advice on nutrition and vitamin/mineral supplements. Please consult a dietician in relation to this. 

  • Coughing, choking or gagging during bottle or breast feeding.
  • Ongoing coughing or choking at meal-times. 
  • Frequent coughing or throat clearing during/shortly after feeding.
  • Ongoing medical investigations relating to your child's feeding, eating or swallowing especially concerns with aspiration. 
  • Eye watering or colour change at meal-times. 
  • Ongoing poor weight gain or weight loss.
  • Ongoing problems with vomiting or gastro-nasal reflux.
  • Difficulty coordinating breathing with eating and drinking
  • Gurgly, hoarse or breathy vocal quality during meals
  • Recurring pneumonia or respiratory infections
  • If your child is currently being fed by a tube in their stomach or nose.
  • If your child is currently receiving medical intervention for an Eating Disorder. 

What information do I need to include in my Gabadoo?

As our Gabadoo Team have never met your family before and know nothing about your child, they can only provide strategies based on the information you provide so be very detailed!

After you have filled in the relevant information in your Gabadoo, go through this checklist to make sure you have included the following:

Family & Home Life:

Description of your family & the structure of your family including siblings, pets or any extended family who are living in your home.

The space available within your house and outside spaces including a garden, farm or playgrounds. Be descriptive in relation to the room where meal-times take place. 

Your daily routine including the times of meal-times, bed-times, school hours, drop offs, child-care etc. 

Strengths and Interests:

What does your child like to do?

What games, toys, T.V. programs, characters do they like?

What type of activities do they enjoy?

What are some of their sensory preferences (e.g. swinging, tickling, climbing, cuddling, music, singing)?

Do they respond to praise from adults? 

Additional Information:

What class is your child in at school?

What type of schooling do they receive? i.e. homeschooling, mainstream N.S., gaelscoil, preschool, ASD class, Special School. 

Have you seen any professionals in the past in relation to their feeding? Or has your child ever had a medical review in relation to their feeding? If so, what was the outcome?

What have you tried before to work on this skill? i.e. intervention, programmes, strategies, courses, books, equipment purchased etc.

What does your child use as their method of communication? e.g. gestures, words, PECs, Lamh.

Make sure to include:

Who typically feeds your child?
Who typically eats with your child?
What type of chair is used? Where is your child sitting to eat?
How long are meals?
Does your child use any different cups/bowls/spoon?
Are there any other activities going on at meals? What activities? e.g. motivators or screens. 

Can your child finger feed? Use a spoon? Fork? 

Also include your child's behaviour during meal-times. For e.g. Are they silent, crying, running away, running in and out, finger splaying, pale face, hiccuping, throwing food, avoiding, having a tantrum, distracting others etc.

If your child has a very limited diet, try to list the foods they are currently eating or include if there are specific textures that they avoid or crave.

What skills would you like support around? What level is your child currently at with this skill? e.g. my child can tolerate beige foods but no fruit or veg. 

What would you like to gain from this Gabadoo? 

Next include videos and images of your child and their environment:

  • A variety of video-clips where your child is eating a range of foods (preferred and non-preferred), capture both their whole posture when eating and then close-up videos of their face from the front and the side. 
  • Video-clips from typical family meal-times so their behaviours can be reviewed if necessary. 
  • If relevant, a video-clip of you engaging with your child during meal-times. 
  • An image of where they sit for meal-times, their posture in their seat and any utensils they use. 

Remember: The more information you give our team, the more individualised and relevant your plan will be. Videos are vital when reviewing a child's feeding skills. 

What support will I receive for my child?

Your information will be reviewed by one of our Gabadoo Experts who is experienced in the area of 'feeding'. They will detail individualised strategies, activities, next steps and helpful organisations and products that you can use at home to support your child. 

So, I'm ready to do my Gabadoo, what's my 'Area of Focus'

Feeding & Meal-Times - CLICK HERE TO GET STARTED