Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Episode #65: Feeding Success Starts Here: Techniques for Tackling Feeding Challenges

Tips on How to Help Your Child With Feeding Challenges
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Tips on How to Help Your Child With Feeding Challenges

Show Notes:

In this episode of the Water Prairie Chronicles podcast, we dive into the world of feeding difficulties with occupational therapist, Dr. Samantha Goldman, also known as Dr. Sam. Dr. Sam shares her expertise and practical strategies for helping parents navigate the challenges of feeding their children. From overcoming picky eating to addressing sensory issues, Dr. Sam provides valuable insights on nurturing healthy eating habits and creating positive mealtimes. If you’re a parent seeking advice, parenting support, and effective mealtime strategies, this interview is a must-watch. Discover how occupational therapy techniques can empower you and your child to overcome feeding challenges. Join us as we explore the keys to enhancing feeding experiences and nurturing your child’s development. Don’t miss out on this opportunity to learn from Dr. Sam’s wisdom and gain valuable insights into childhood nutrition and mealtime stress.

Subscribe to our channel and sign up for our monthly newsletter for more expert tips and exclusive content on parenting, child development, and creating a harmonious family life. Together, let’s unlock the secrets to successful mealtimes and nourish our children’s well-being.

Please note, all information provided during this interview is for entertainment purposes only and should not replace the advice of your doctor and therapist.

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Music Used:

“LazyDay” by Audionautix is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license.


Meet Today’s Guest:

Samantha Goldman (“Dr. Sam”) is a pediatric occupational & feeding therapist who teaches parents how to help their child with sensory needs & SPD introduce new foods – without the mealtime battles! The parents she supports dream of their child as an adventurous and happy eater. But instead, they feel defeated and exhausted, and confused about how to help their child when nothing seems to work. As a self-proclaimed food & sensory nerd, Samantha loves to empower these parents with the education and resources they need to confidently and consistently introduce new foods to their child – without the tears or fighting.



Episode #65: Feeding Success Starts Here

Techniques for Tackling Feeding Challenges

(Recorded May 15, 2023)

Full Transcript of Interview:

Tonya: Welcome back to Water Prairie. We appreciate you being with us today. I have a guest with me that I met recently in a podcast group that we’re together in, and this is Dr. Sam Goldman, aka Dr. Sam to some of her patients. And she teaches parents how to help their child with feeding difficulties, explore and try new foods.

And so I’m looking forward to, um, to hearing a little bit more about what she’s doing. But for now, welcome to Water Prairie. Sam.

Sam: Thank you. Thank you. Thank you so much for having me. I am very excited to be here.

I’ve, I’ve been waiting for this for a while, so I’ve been looking forward to it. But before we go any deeper, I’d like for you to tell us a little bit more about yourself, cuz I only touched on a little bit of who you are with that.

Yeah, so I’m Sam, the doctor is a doctor of occupational therapy, not a medical doctor. So I am an occupational therapist by my training and I help kids learn how to explore new foods when I work with them one-on-one in therapy. And then in my own personal business, I am obsessed with empowering and teaching parents how they can do the same for their children at home.

Because I really do think that education is key, and I think it’s one of the most missing ingredients when it comes to working on these things with your child at home.

Excellent. Um, this season we’ve been playing a game called Two Truths and a Lie, and I’ve asked Sam to prepare three facts or pseudo-facts about herself to share with us.

And your job as a listener is to see if you can decide which two are true and which one is the lie. And you can either put your notes in the, um, the comments if you’re watching on YouTube, or you can go to Instagram or Twitter and find the post there and put your answer there.

So, Sam, what are your two truths and a lie?

Yes, and I, I mentioned before I wrote these down because I am an awful, awful liar, so I think I could probably keep it, keep them a little more neutral if it’s written down. Okay, so number one, I ran a marathon. Number two, I was held back in kindergarten. And number three, although I am on it for business, I don’t actually love social media.

Ooh. All right. So, those are very different types of answers too. So yes. So your job listeners is to go and guess or to put your comments down.

So, Sam, What led you to specialize in helping children with feeding difficulties? I mean, occupational therapy is a broad range of areas, so how did you get focused on feeding?

It is a broad range. I mean, to say the least, and I actually wouldn’t have said that it’s a chosen one. I kind of got thrown into it when I was working in one of my jobs.

I had just started at a new hospital. I was pretty new out of school still. And the therapist who was at the hospital that was supposed to be training me, teaching me everything a week in, she gave her notice. And so their prime feeding therapist, NICU therapists, hospital therapists had just left. And so there were a couple other girls who were still specialists in feeding, still specialists in the NICU, and they really took me under their wing.

I initially thought I was just going to be doing general kind of OT for the hospital, and all of a sudden I was a feeding specialist and never knew that I would’ve loved it, but I really did love working with the kids on that. And when I was in the hospital, one of the things that really just stood out to me so much was some of these things that could have been prevented.

Some of these kids might not have needed to make it to the hospital. If we were able to provide parents with this education at home. And so that’s kind of how that led into me also doing it in that outpatient setting.

Wow. It’s, it’s actually really interesting. You know, you don’t think about, um, about how the, it starts that early too.

With, uh, the, the younger children. Yes. Um, and thinking back with, with my kids, my, my first had, um, had feeding issues at the very beginning and, um, and I don’t, don’t think about that very often, but, but yeah, it was, it was a little, um, chaotic at first trying to figure out what to do and how to get her to even learn how to, to take in food. So, uh, yeah.

Yeah. You know, a lot of people, when they see us in the NICU, they’re like, What do you mean? A baby doesn’t know how to eat? Don’t they just, aren’t they just born knowing how to eat and, no, actually it’s, it’s a learned thing. Yes, they have reflexes when they’re born that help them, but sometimes those reflexes aren’t developed or sometimes something isn’t going right and then as you grow up, those reflexes go away and you need to have that skill.

So yes, I mean, definitely. I’m sure you’ve, you saw that in the beginning.

Well, we were more with a tongue tie issue. And so trying to, um, to find adaptive, uh, nipples for the bottle to be able to help hit hitting the back of her, of her mouth more. Um, which I never would’ve even known that there was a difference on it.

So, so it took, it took a while to get to the right person though, to help us with that, cuz there was some frustration along the way. And it, it was a good 10, 10, 12 days before we had that resolved. And, um, meanwhile she was not getting nutrition during that time, so it, it was getting, getting a little scary for a while there.

But that’s, yeah, we, we saw how quickly a child can lose weight when they’re just starting out. And she, you know, thankfully she was not a preemie, so she had, she had her initial body weight there to help, but, um, but I could only imagine, you know, with, with the, the NICU babies, you know, how, how, how quickly something could change for them.

Yeah, absolutely. Oh gosh. I’m so sorry you went through that, but so glad you found the answer.

We learned a lot. We learned a lot during that time. The beginning of parenting. It, it just, there, there are lots of questions along the way as most of our parents that are listening know already.


So speaking of feeding difficulties, they can be challenging for parents and for children.

I mean, not necessarily just the NICU, but as kids are getting older too, what are some of the common misconceptions or misunderstandings about this issue that you come across frequent frequently?

Yeah. Well, I will say the absolute biggest misconception, the one I hear from parents, from siblings, from grandparents, the ones I see on social media, is that if they are not eating, that we should withhold food because if they are hungry enough, they will eat.

So we should withhold what we, what they want to eat, the treat, the snacks, those things that make them comfortable until they’re ready to eat what we want them to eat. And that, I think is the biggest misconception and also the most dangerous misconception because the truth is when a child’s not eating, there’s a reason usually behind why they’re not eating.

Whether it’s their oral motor skills, like their tongue ties or something like sensory processing. So the way that their senses look at this, or even a medical concern. There’s a reason in their body they’re not eating, and their body is smart, their brain is smart. We are always, always, always going to protect our body first.

So the majority of the time a child will, they’re, they’re more happy, not more happy, but they are more comfortable with avoiding just eating. And they’re, they’re gonna take that discomfort of not eating as opposed to putting in something inside their body that feels like it’s gonna harm it.


So, um, so yeah. And that, that’s one that I have heard before, or maybe not in those specific words, but the same idea around it before. Um, and so as we go through here, I’m hoping we’re gonna maybe find out how we can dispel some of those, those myths.

Oh yes, of course.

So what, in, in your, in your experience, cuz you’ve, you, you, you work with kids from NICU up till when, I mean that your early on time was with NICU, so now what ages are you working with?

Yeah, so I even work with young adults, so I actually really enjoy, I really thrive in those older kids as well. So anywhere up to 17, 18, I work with. As young as 21 or as old, not as young as old and young as 21.

Okay. So pretty much all, all, all ages are working with you now? Mm-hmm. Okay. And, and with parents, with the younger children too. Um, so what are some of the most common feeding difficulties that you’re encountering?

Yeah, so I would say I do primarily personally work with four kids, aged four plus. But when it comes to the most common ages, I think that kids start to see difficulty is around that like two year mark I think is like where most parents see that. They’re like, wait, they ate everything up until the age of two. And then at two everything hit, you know, the fan. And they just can’t understand why, why something had such a big change.

And part of it is it’s developmental. So at the age of two, kids are learning that they are their own person. Until then, they think they’re part of their parents. So they’re learning. They’re their own unique person. They can say no when they don’t like something. They have preferences now. And so part of it is developmental, and part of it is really those difficulties starting to show in a new way.

We’re adding more difficult foods. So when kids are younger, most of the time we’re giving them. Softer foods, easier foods to chew. Then we’re all of a sudden we want those chicken, we want that meat, we want those hard cruciferous veggies. And so these difficulties start to show a little bit more.

Okay. I, I hadn’t thought about, about the being the time that, that we are bringing in those.

And you’re right, those textures are pretty extreme from, from the mush out of a, out of a soft food jar or even making it yourself. Um, so. So that’s the age group. What are some of the common feeding difficulties that you might see?

Oh, yes. So common feeding difficulties that we see are kids having a hard time with variety, I would say is the most common, is the variety.

So every time I, I speak with a parent, they’re like, they will only eat a handful of foods. I can literally count on my hand how many foods they can eat. So number one is that number of food for parents. Also the types. So a lot of our kids are completely ignoring certain food groups. So most often proteins, fruits, and veggies, carbohydrates are usually usually a winner.

Those are kind of the most biggest ones. But the causes too are also what we need to think about. So those are what parents come to me for when they say they’re having a difficulty with this. It’s like that anxiety around food. It’s the variety of food. It’s the constant mealtime battles. But what’s actually causing those are something different.

So I actually personally specialize in sensory processing. So the majority of the time, the feeding difficulty that I’m seeing is because a child’s sensory system is getting in the way of them feeling confident, exploring a new food.

Right. Okay. Makes, makes sense with that. Um, so you’re an occupational therapist, so what are the key principles or approaches that you’re following when you’re working with parents to help their child with feeding difficulties?

Yeah, I would say the number one, as an occupational therapist, we talk about our occupations, so not our jobs, but the things that make up our day. And for a child, Their main occupation in life is play. And so from my standpoint, when I’m working with a child, or even when I’m teaching parents how to help their child, I am working on how do I make this a playful thing?

How do I make this an enjoyable thing? How do I make it something a child wants to do? Because they are gonna be more motivated. And actually research has even shown kids learn better through play. So, Key one as an occupational and feeding therapist is, how can I incorporate play at the table to help them learn?

Okay. Now, I saw a post that you had recently on Instagram that, um, that it wa it wasn’t play-based, but it, it kind of came across to me like you were showing a transition. Of going from, and those that are listening, you may wanna go check out her Instagram because, cuz she has some, some interesting tips and tricks in there.

But this was like a graphic that you had posted from going from eating a toaster, toaster waffle to fresh blueberries. And I thought that was kind of an interesting transition. And you’ve had some other things like that where, um, it’s not going from just one to the other, but you’re showing some of the, the steps in between.

Mm-hmm. And I thought that it was really interesting, but I never even thought about. About it until I saw your, your graphic with that as far as the transition going through, um, can you give an example of maybe just a, a play idea that, that you’ve used to, to help maybe some, something re re recently that, that you’ve posted or something.

Yeah, so when that graphic you’re talking about, that’s actually called food chaining and that’s another technique as an an OT and feeding therapist that I really, really enjoy. So kids are gonna be more likely to try a food. And to like a food if it’s similar to something they already know. So as opposed to jumping from that waffle and then being like, you like waffles here, now here’s a blueberry.

We’re actually introducing it to them in kind of those little steps. So, Okay. They like this one brand of waffle and no other ones well can we work on now practicing a different brand of waffles, a different flavor of waffles, then a blueberry waffle from there. Can we put a blueberry on the side? So I also think in this process, parents get stuck a little bit when they try that next thing and it doesn’t work.

I almost never expect a child on a first time to like anything I give them. It is that first time. We are always like, our guard is way up. It could take multiple, multiple times. So I’d just like to put that before I even talk about the play idea. So I can even use that as an example. So if I was gonna introduce a new waffle from a different brand or a new flavor, I would maybe try and just put it on their plate and see what they do, but then if they’re not about it, maybe I would take out a food cutter and make a puzzle out of it.

So maybe I would take little food cutters and cut out different pieces and have them see if they could fit the little puzzle pieces in. Maybe I would see if I could cut a face out of my waffle and hold it up to my face. My question is, how can I help this child be more comfortable around this food?

How can I help their anxiety decrease around this food, their nervous system, relax so that this new food doesn’t seem quite as threatening or scary.

So all those times that I was told not to play with my food when I was a child. Hmm. It could have been a good thing. Right.

From an OT perspective. Yes.

Parents don’t love when I tell them that. Right, right.

Maybe not have syrup with that waffle that you’re cutting out with it.

So the other thing too that I really like to tell parents though is just because we’re playing with our food, doesn’t mean it needs to be on the floor. It doesn’t mean that it needs to be this whole big shindig of, you know, throwing and playing and messy and you’re gonna be cleaning for the next five hours.

It could literally be as simple as you handed them a food cutter and they just cut a piece out and they got involved with it. It could literally be as simple as being like, oh, hey, my waffle looks like a basketball when I hold it up. It doesn’t need to be this elaborate process. But how can you start to think about it in a playful way, because that’s the best way for a child to learn.

I’m even thinking whenever you get to the blueberries with the waffle, now you have the grid on the waffle and the blueberries. What patterns could you make, you know, with the, with the berries on it or something?

A hundred percent

nice. So the, um, and I, I really like the idea of the, of the, the mini cutters are making a puzzle out of it. I never would’ve thought of that. So great, great, great tip there. What role do parents play in addressing feeding difficulties?

The biggest. The most influential, the biggest rule. So another key principle that I should have talked about, and another misconception I should have talked about is that as an OT and a feeding therapist, I never personally believe that a child’s eating challenges are parents’ fault.

And I think parents come in with so much guilt about that. And again, like we mentioned, there’s usually something going on in their body that’s making eating hard. However, as the parent, we can influence what we do and how we go from here. And so a lot of the times parents will go to therapy or parents will start, you know, dabbling in some things and they’re like, it’s not working.

But maybe when they go home, they’re not really carrying over their techniques from therapy as much and we’re not practicing it as much. So the parent is actually the most influential person because you are with them the majority of the week. And so I really think the role that a parent has is.

It’s overwhelming, but it can be so influential when we start to make those little changes. Doesn’t have to be big changes, little changes that can really support your child. Magic really can happen.

I would imagine that especially for your younger children that are coming in, the work that you’re doing with the parent is probably the most important part because as you say, they’re with them 24 7, so they’re the ones that are going through, it’s, it’s, it’s like we’ve heard when we’ve talked about speech, it’s almost for the parent more than the child because they need to know how to reinforce all of these strategies. And watching you introduce it with your child is, is definitely important, but then being able to take that skill and continue to see that.

Yeah, absolutely. We’re doing, when a parent comes to see me, I am spending so much time educating that parent also, why, as I mentioned, my key thing now is that I do is educating parents because, What you do in every moment with your child, they are learning every single second.

Every time we respond, every time we do something, they are, they’re little sponges. You see it from the way they repeat our sentences. So even the things that you do, the way you talk about food, the way you are around food, that’s teaching them how to respond an actor on food as well. Right?

Right. Um, Can you share some practical strategies or techniques that parents can use at home to support their child’s feeding development?

Yeah, so my number one thing that I always recommend for a parent is to have a safe food on the plate. So kind of like we talked about before, I am not the biggest fan of that starvation method of. Let’s just take away the food and they will eventually eat what they want, what we want them to eat. A safe food is a food that a child will eat about 80% of the time or more.

So it’s a very, very, very preferred food. And the reason that we put that on the plate is so they do feel safe coming to the table. They do feel like there’s something they can eat. And something really interesting is that it will actually you, you will see them. Feel more comfortable when they see that and be more open to the other things on their plate because they know they have something they can fill their belly up on.

So that’s number one of the things that I recommend. Number two is when you introduce new foods to ditch the pressure. And so I say with new foods, I used to say we don’t do pressure at the table. I still personally do not use a no pressure method at the table. But when I’m doing podcasts like this and stuff and you’re not working one-on-one with a therapist, If you remove everything the way you were doing before, you will probably see their intake drop for a little bit.

So I like to say, now why don’t you just try with a new food? So whatever they’re doing, however they usually eat at the table. But next time you introduce a food that’s totally different, could you introduce it in a way with no pressure? Could you introduce it in that playful way of a game? And then just see what happens.

Don’t pressure them to take a bite. Don’t pressure them to take a lick. A kiss that’s become really big recently is, can you take a bite? Can you take a lick? Can you take a touch? But instead, how can we do this in a non-pressure way that they’ll actually be excited about?

Right, right. What’s I’m thinking too is they’re, if they’re that relaxed when they’re playing without even thinking, they may take a taste of it, or

There are so many times in therapy and even when I talk to parents who are in my membership that they’re like, I can’t believe it. They’re like, I, they just, they took a bite, like we didn’t do anything. They just took a bite. And even last week I was seeing a child and they just, they stuck an orange right in their mouth and we hadn’t even done anything yet.

And you’re just, sometimes you’re like, wow. As soon as they feel comfortable and confident and that food matches, With their system, with their confidence. They just, something clicks sometimes. And so I like to say, when you introduce that new food, can you try it without the pressure this time?

And then I’ll give you one more. Yeah, yeah, please. So my third one is, I like to make sure to introduce a plate that has a protein, a fruit, or veggie and a carbohydrate. So, and I usually like to do that for snacks and for meals. So a lot of the times, dinner becomes this really big point of contention because dinner is the meal that we think needs to have all of our nutrition.

And then for snacks we give like, you know, just the cookie, just the cheerio, just the, this. But kids feel more comfortable at snacks. So what if that new food was introduced at a snack time? Would they feel more confident and comfortable taking a bite? Then if we gave them those other foods around snack time, would we not feel as pressured at dinner that they have to take a bite of these things? So that’s my other one that I really enjoy doing with my parents is adding those three things on the plate.

Well, I like that too, as far as for future health of the child. Now they’ve learned a more balanced approach where they’re not having just a day of carbs between breakfast, snacks and all. And then, like I said, dinnertime, adding all, all the protein in the veggies just in one meal. So they, um, you know, as they hit those teen years and all, they may have a healthier balance of what they’re eating, um, and into adulthood too.

Yeah. And it helps balance their blood sugar for going into class and learning, and they feel. They feel more full. Of course. I know there’s a lot of parents out there immediately thinking, Sam, what do you talking about? My child does not even have those foods yet. I can’t even put a plate together of that. But even if they’re not eating it yet, I like to introduce just like a little size of your nail. So I like when I do a new food. I like it to be a really tiny piece of new food because that’s less overwhelming. And just leave it on the plate and start there.

Yeah. So how, how long, like, so when something starts out like that, so you have a little sliver of carrot or whatever it may be, um, how long would you typically expect it to still be on the plate afterwards, before a child even attempts to try it?

So I would love to have a better answer to that for you, but the research is all over the place with that. And it really depends on the child you’re working with. So a child who’s had a lot of negative experiences with the food they’re going to take a lot longer. A child who’s had a lot of pressure at the table, a lot of fighting at the table, it’s gonna take a lot longer. And so, the research goes anywhere from like, it takes eight times of exposing a child to a food to, it takes 50 times and there’s somewhere in the middle. So I really wish there was a better answer. I would say in general, the field of us say it takes 20 times of a child tasting a food to know if they like it.

Okay, so even, even once they’ve tasted it, so parents that are listening don’t give up if you’re just starting and it’s just been a few days.

Yes. Don’t give up. Actually, again, the research shows that a parent tries three to five times before giving up on a food, and yet we’re saying a child needs to taste it 20 times. So a lot of the time we’re giving up way ahead of the curve. There are some foods that might take a year. There are some foods that a child may never like, but what we wanna do is to get into what I like to call a food explorer lifestyle.

So a lifestyle where we continually expose them to stuff, continually introduce them to stuff just like we do. We go out and we try different things all the time. We learn different things. We put different things on our plate. So instead of hyper focusing on this, one food instead of hyper-focusing on, did they take a bite of peas at dinner tonight?

Focus on how can we create this lifestyle that supports food exploration and their own love of food.

Right, right. So are there any specific milestones or signs that parents should look out for to identify a potential feeding difficulty or problem? Okay.

Yes, absolutely. So I would say number one, and the one that usually gets looked over the most, um, parents go into the pediatrician and they’re constantly saying, my child’s a picky eater.

My child doesn’t eat anything. Meal time is awful. And a lot of the times they’ll ask, oh, okay. But they’re, they’re gaining weight, so it’s okay. But if you are continually fighting with your child at dinner every single night, if it is miserable for you, if it’s miserable for them, I always say it’s worth getting an evaluation.

Along with that. If your child is eating less than 10 foods is a big, big red flag. If they’re eating even 20 to 30 food, that’s kind of like that yellow flag. If they exclude entire food groups and if they’re losing weight,

Okay, and would it be an occupational therapist that they would call at that time or would they go to the pediatrician? Where would they go to get help?

So typically your first stop is gonna be the pediatrician because usually you need a script, especially if you’re gonna go with somebody insurance based, you’re gonna need a script for therapy. Sometimes some states, like in Florida, we don’t need, um, a script, but insurance probably won’t cover it.

So your first stop, I would say, would be your pediatrician. Then from there, there are different types of feeding specialists. So there’s occupational therapist. We are really, really skilled in sensory processing. There’s speech therapists. They are really, really skilled in swallowing and any kind of signs of choking.

That’s another one. Any choking, coughing, things like that, I would immediately go to a feeding evaluation. Then there’s even psychologists, so if you feel like it’s really anxiety based, there’s psychologists. And last you have your dieticians, so they’re gonna be working with you on that calorie. So anybody who really feels like their child’s not getting enough calories, I always recommend they start a dietician. So there’s different ways you can go.

Right, right. Well, and depending on what the, what the situation is, and I would imagine it may take a trial and error with a couple before you find out what the real underlying problem is.

Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely.

Depending on how much your child can communicate with you.

Yeah. And we’re also gonna wanna rule out before we start feeding therapy is if there is any kind of GI related diagnoses. If there’s any kind of other medical, there’s over 400 medical diagnoses that can be related to eating. And so we wanna first have that first stop at your doctor to rule any of those out.

Right? Right. So, Uh, you know, we’ve talked a little bit about, you know, some of the stress that happens with feeding. Um, and so it’s, I think everyone would agree that, um, feeding difficulties could cause some stress at mealtime and some anxiety probably for both the parents and the kids, especially if they have guests over or if they’re at the grand grandma’s house, that type thing.

Um, so I’m just picturing how, how high that stress might be. Mm-hmm. How do you recommend managing those emotions but still maintaining a positive environment? When you’re feeding your child.

Yeah. Well, number one, again, I wanna remind parents this is not your fault. So exhale, like I think that, I think that just takes a load of stress off.

Another exhale is I wanna remind parents, it’s not your job to make your child eat. It is your job to provide them with the opportunities to do so in a supportive environment. And when you let go of that, I have to be the one to make him take a bite. Oh man, that’s another big exhale. But aside from that, it’s really important as a parent to take care of your own mental health.

So when I, I took a course once and there is a big feeding mentor. So one of my favorite approaches is called the SOS Approach to Feeding. That is a big thing I use as a therapist. And Key Toomey, Ph.D., she founded it, in her description and when she’s talking, she says, every single one of you guys here, should have a therapist.

She’s like, when you start waking up in the middle of the night thinking about these children, she’s like, it is time. And I was like, okay. I wake up all the time thinking about these kids, making sure that they, so I am a big proponent of therapy. I will say personally, after that with her, I was like, okay, I’m gonna go talk to somebody. And of course we don’t share any information about kids, but learning how to manage your emotions and how to separate that from your child’s emotions so that you can be the best version of yourself so that you can help them. And we actually, we talk about this in therapy, is that a child is learning their skills of regulation from your regulation.

So if you are screaming at them about taking a bite, they are gonna learn how to respond, is to scream back at you. Versus if we kind of get down to their, we take our deep breaths and we relax. And once you kind of figure out how to help yourself, you can better help your child how they stay on an airplane.

Put on your mask first. I know this is easier said than done though. So realistically, how to manage this. Sometimes you need to go in another room and take a couple deep breaths. Sometimes you need to get help. Sometimes you need to reach out to somebody for help, so you have support through this.

Sometimes it’s working with your partner and making sure you guys are on the same page so that this is less stressful for you both,

Right. Right. I’ve, I’ve had quite a few of my guests talk about that as far as just the, the need of making sure that you’re taking care of your own self too. And so I appreciate you emphasizing that as well.

I think, think we all need to hear it. It was not something that I thought about focusing on when I was at that stage of being a young parent, but I see the value of it looking back on it, that it, it, it would’ve decreased stress. I think in a lot of ways.

Absolutely and especially any parent of a child who does have unique needs and does have kind of a different path than you were initially thinking.

It’s a, it is a lot of extra work to go to therapies. It is a lot of extra work to advocate for them at school and to do all these wonderful things you’re doing. But we also need to make sure that you are filling your cup as well.

Yeah. Yeah. The um, So if, if a parent hasn’t been helping to address these issues, um, with their child, so they’re getting older, it’s been years.

Now you’re saying some of the patients that you have are in their teens and early twenties even so, Um, are there any long-term implications or consequences if the feeding difficulties are not addressed?

So there’s definitely long-term we see kids, you know, maybe have some issues with nutrition, so of course, you know, maybe their blood tests will come back.

A lot of the times we do see, you know, low iron results and low this, right? So yeah, definitely if we’re not eating certain things, um, I hesitate to go too much into the long-term consequences because they could be really scary. Of course, this situation, this situation. But long-term, if you don’t, if we don’t address it early on, if we don’t start working on it early on and we just keep fighting with our child, we’re not gonna get to that place where we wanna get to.

Right. And um, how can early intervention make a difference with that?

Yeah, so anybody who knows about early intervention, the entire point of early intervention, at least where we are in Florida, is from zero to three years old. The brain is what we call very plastic. So it means that the brain is continually learning, laying down new pathways.

Our brain is always laying down new pathways, but at that age it is expanding rapidly. So kind of like we talked about, every interaction you have with a child, it is laying down that pathway. Now, if we can get to them really early and really in that beginning, we can lay down a lot of positive pathways about food, a lot of positive interactions about food.

A lot of. Memories and associations with food in a great way. If we keep having these mealtime battles and mealtime keeps being not fun. We’re laying down the opposite. We’re laying down pathways of, okay, wait, I gagged on this food. Okay, wait, this food wasn’t enjoyable. I fought with mom. I don’t wanna come to the table anymore.

So the way that early intervention can be so helpful is that before we form. Really, really strong habits over time. We’ve actually gotten in there really early and made some changes so that we have maximized their development at a younger age.

Right. Okay, good. And um, what are some additional resources and support networks that you recommend for parents that are dealing with feeding difficulties with the children?

Yeah, so I actually, I thought a long time about this question and. I have a lot of sensory ones, but I would, for any parent out there, I would go to Feeding Matters. Feeding Matters has a wonderful website with a lot of education for parents, especially when it comes to kind of that question of is it pediatric feeding disorder?

Is it our fit? Highly recommend you guys watch that. Uh, webinar Key Toomey, the founder of SSS, she has a two-hour parent, free webinar on her site. That is incredible. So that’s somewhere I would start. And then if your child has any kind of sensory processing challenges, I really love the Out of Sync Child, which is a book.

And I really love Sensational Child, which is a book.

Okay. So we can, we can put those links in the show notes so that those who wanna look more into that, um, so you can find them easier. And, um, so I appreciate you sharing that with us. But while we’re talking about links, what, um, for anyone who’s listened to this and wants to get in, in touch with you, what’s their best way of contacting you?

I know you have a website. Give us all of your connections out there.

Yes. Yes. So I have a website. The website is not the same name as my business anymore. It is And over on there you will find My Food Explorers membership. So as I mentioned, I think education is key.

I think it’s a way to empower you and make you feel confident and more connected and ready to. Kind of take on this challenge, but I do also share a ton, as you mentioned, on my Instagram, which is @DrSamGoldman. And then I do have a podcast that just launched recently, and that is the Food Explorers Podcast.

And we entirely dedicate that podcast to teaching you how to help your child become a confident and happy eater.

And I will say from what I’ve listened to of the podcast, um, Sam is really easy to listen to. It’s, it’s always upbeat and I, I wish I had had that resource when my kids were younger. So if you, especially if you have a younger child, listen into her podcast. She has some great information coming through there.

Oh, thank you.

Oh, you’re welcome. The, um, so you’ve mentioned the food explorers. I want you to tell me some of the things that you’re involved with, some, any projects you have going on or any programs that, that our parents might be interested in.

Yes, yes. So actually in June we are launching Camp Food Explorers, which is going to be a fun three day challenge where we are having, each family’s gonna be their own little team, and there will be prizes, and it’s all about exploring a couple new foods, having some fun at the table, starting to make some really happy, fun changes in those three days.

In your own little camp. Okay. And then in the Food Explorers membership, we actually decided to add some sensory master classes. So what we do in the Food Explorers membership is we explore a new food together every single month. So by the end of the year, you should have added 12 new foods to your repertoire, but I really, really wanted to hone in on that sensory part.

And so going forward in the next couple months, we’re adding some sensory masterclasses on different topics on how it affects the table, but also how sensory processing affects kids throughout the day, at school, at home, et cetera.

Wow. Wow. So, um, so these are great. And so if they go onto your website, can they find access to each of these

so they can find access to the Food Explorers Membership and Camp Food Explorers should be up at the beginning of June.

Okay. Okay. So actually by the time you’re hearing this, it will be up. So we’ll have the link Yes, the, the link on that. Well, Sam, I really appreciate you spending the time to go over all these questions with me today. Um, like I said, I, I wish I had had your resource when my kids were younger, but, um, but as I meet other people, I’ll be able to pass this on to them, and I hope a lot of our parents that are listening will start applying some of the ideas that you’ve given them.

And if they, if they do have some concerns, now they know where to go to. To start looking for some help. Um, and if anyone that’s listening, if you take part in the Food Explorers or the Camp Food Explorers, um, send us a note and let us know how it’s going. Cuz I’d like, like to, to, to hear some feedback on that too. But Sam, thank you. I, I appreciate you taking the time today.

Oh, thank you so much for having me.

Tonya Wollum


Tonya Wollum is a disability advocate and host of the Water Prairie Chronicles podcast which connects special needs parents with resources to help them navigate parenting a child with a disability. She is the mother of 2 college-age children who have each grown up with a disability. That experience, along with a background in education, led her to create the Water Prairie Chronicles to help share what she has learned with parents of younger children to help them know how to advocate for their children.

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