OT Mealtime Chats

child development eating behaviours mealtimes occupational therapy professional advice

 Meet my sister, Rachel. A paediatric occupational therapist working in the mid-west and owner of All Star OT. Rachel has a passion for working with families in the areas of picky eating, mealtime management and developmental disabilities. She is able to provide incredible professional insight into all things child development, so she'll feature in our journal quite a lot.

 Here is an excerpt from one of her blog posts about posture and positioning for successful meal times! ...


As an occupational therapist, I have to be careful not to preach this one too hard, but here goes. Posture and positioning can be a game changer.

The body's number one priority believe it or not is not to eat, it's to breathe! Number two priority? Protect the brain!. I'll say that again. Protect the airway, protect the brain. Can you imagine how hard it is to do that when your child isn't positioned right?

For little ones just learning about solids, having a high chair that positions them so that their head is supported (not flopping from side to side, front to back), allows them to be at eye level with their feeding caregiver, and supports their arms and trunk to explore finger foods on their tray is SO important.

A little note on readiness and starting solids: Ideally your little one should be able to support themselves somewhat independently for the mealtime, but a highchair can still help. We definitely want to watch for signs of readiness because if you start your little one on solids before their body is ready you won't be off to a great start.

When choosing a high chair, you want to consider the following:

  • How it can grow and adapt with your child as their needs change

  • The ability for it to be pushed up to the family table when your child is ready

  • And let's be honest, how easy is the chair to clean?

Let's have a look at two of my favourite chairs:

Chair #1: The good old IKEA highchair

Pros: super easy to clean. Has a tray and buckle. Comes with attachments to support bub if they're a little smaller and need some support for their trunk. Would fit up to the family table as needed if you remove the tray. As affordable as hell. Winner!

Cons: little ability to grow and adapt with your child and no foot support! Ever sat at a bar stool and your feet didn't touch the ground/support bars on the stool? Not comfy, nor does it entice me to put my "protect the airway, protect the brain" to rest and eat. Particularly if I'm a toddler who relies on as many points of stabilisation and contact as possible to concentrate on something new.


Good news however is that you can buy attachable foot rests! Nimble and Rest have a product called Footsi which attaches to your child's chair to provide them with that extra bit of support.



Chair #2: The Mocka Wooden Highchair

Pros: Relatively easy to clean, has a tray and buckle. Comes with cushioning for support. The seat and footrest are all adjustable, and the tray is removable so this chair can support your child during mealtimes until they are old enough to sit safely on an adult chair at the family table.

Cons: This one is a little bit more expensive (averaging around $130). But I'm all about cost per use - if your child sat in this for three main meals a day, from six months of age to 4 years, that works out to be about 3 cents per use, still pretty affordable in the long run!


You can continue reading more of Rach's top tips by clicking here. She's a real legend in the space of difficult eaters so please reach out to her if you need any advice in that area!

Rachel Banks - All Star Occupational Therapy

Ph: 0423 913 270

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