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What do the "tummy muscles" have to do with helping my picky eater?

Whenever I get to meet and connect with new families who are wanting support for their picky eaters, we almost always discuss the relation of "tummy muscles", "core", and/or "postural control" to eating/drinking.

The "core" is essential to so many daily activities we often forget about it because we are sometimes caught up with "they can't eat, can't sit, can't focus, can't listen, etc". The "core" or "tummy muscles" is foundational to many of the areas we worry about. You need a stable posture to help you sit, listen, eat and drink! If your core is "loosy goosy", don't expect to have stable jaw/tongue movements for eating and drinking!

Take a peak at the slides below:

Here are a few suggestions to try at home/daycare/school to help build a stronger core:

  • If your child is playing on the floor, spread the toys/items around them (not just in front of them). When the items are slightly out of reach, your child has to shift their body and reach/grasp for the items. The twisting and weight bearing on their hands will help build their tummy muscles. Games like Lego, puzzles, dolls and accessories, etc.

  • Yoga is a great way to engage the tummy muscles but make sure your little one is NOT holding their breath. The breathing while holding the position and in movement is what will build their core muscles.

  • Twister game!

  • Building and participating in obstacle courses

  • Playing outside! Using playground equipment, walking/balancing in the woods, playing in the sand at the beach with various toys to choose from, etc.

If you have any questions or would like more ideas, feel free to reach out!

Thanks for reading !

Take care,

Jessica Earle

Occupational Therapist

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