Eating is much more than just putting food into our mouths and swallowing. Feeding and eating have many components that interact with each other and many layers of influence. Learning to eat is an ongoing process. At any stage of development in a child’s life, problems can interfere with the progression of becoming independent, competent eaters.
In a holistic approach, a child who is having difficulty is not treated in bits and pieces, but as a whole person, with consideration for what makes him an individual, including his physical abilities, personality, and family. To eat independently, the child must be able to detect and act on hunger cues both to start and stop eating; use motor skills to bring the food to his mouth, chew and swallow; process a multitude of sensory information; and demonstrate social behaviors appropriate to eating and mealtime. The goal is for him to be an active participant in the meal, feed himself without help and see mealtime as an important, meaningful and satisfying part of his life.