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Feeding in Practice

Have you had a chance to read our feeding blog? Here’s a video clip demonstrating one of the tactics described in our blog: a bite of non-preferred food followed by a bite of a preferred food. However, there are a few tid-bits in this video to help you be successful. Let’s break it down.


Micha is 2 years 4 months old without a significant feeding issue. She simply struggles with eating a variety of protein and veggies, and has often refused to eat chicken tenders. Yet, she has taken a few bites of the chicken in the past.

Right before the clip

I placed a potato wedge and chicken tender on Micha’s plate (the wedge and tender 1 lb meal at Raley’s is a really good deal!). She ate the potato wedge and refused the chicken. She then requested to look in the pantry. While in the pantry, she asked to have a cookie. I told her she could have bites of the cookie if she ate bites of chicken. She did her declaration of sadness (a faint whimper) and then I asked her again, “Do you want a cookie?” She said “yeah!”. I then placed her back on the stool and said, “Ok, then you have to take a bite of chicken.” Because she has some history with this exchange, she said “Ok” and took a bite of chicken.

In the video

  • It starts around the fifth bite of the chicken.

  • She picks up the tender and takes a bite (this is the first time she has taken a bite of the entire tender instead of a slice of it). Because it was a small bite, she got a small piece of cookie (a crumb, really).

  • The second exchange, she picks up the chicken tender and takes another bite. This time, it was a very small bite, mostly of the breading. To help her out, I tore off a piece that was mostly meat and she popped the entire piece in her mouth. Since she took a larger bite, she got a bigger bite of the cookie.

  • She claps for herself, which is adorable. And a reminder that I wasn’t praising her efforts enough! I was too focused on the silly video to be a proper praiser.

How it ended

Micha ate 2/3 of the chicken tender. While this is not enough to satisfy her (she ate some yogurt after), the portion of chicken was greater than any other portion I have witnessed her eat. And of course, she ate the chicken until the cookie was gone.

What you didn’t see

  • Prior to the video (and why the cookie didn’t last as long as the tender – because I make sure that happens!), my son came down and requested help with getting some blueberries that were sealed in a container. While I was putting blueberries in a bowl, Micha was following the protocol without my assistance! She would take a bite of chicken, and then break off a piece of the cookie after she ate the chicken. Granted, her pieces were larger than the ones I broke off; but she did this twice while I was getting blueberries! She could have just abandoned the contingency and went straight for the cookie - yet, she remained faithful!

  • Following the end of the video, Micha ate two novel foods. We have attempted and failed at these foods in the past: raisins and apples. Granted, she only took about two bites of each. However, these bites were initiated by her and required no prompting. If I had more cookie, we probably could have gotten more bites of each.

As always, this tactic may not work for all learners in all situations. It is provided as a real-life example of one tactic that works with some eaters. If you have a learner who struggles a bit more with feeding issues, give us a call so we can help out!!


Disclaimer: The nature of the The Learning Consultants blog is for informational purposes only to highlight evidence-based strategies that have been proven to be effective with a limited population in a limited environment. These strategies may not be applicable to all individuals in all settings. Individualism based upon biological, historical and environmental factors must be considered before implementation. Therefore, please consult with an educational, developmental, or behavioral professional before taking action. Untrained individuals using these strategies do so at their own risk.

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