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Jennifer
Jennifer, School Psychologist
Category: Parenting
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Experience:  Collaborative parent consultation on everything from modifying behavior to child development.
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Please, I need some advice. About a week ago my five year old

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Please, I need some advice. About a week ago my five year old is scare of eating solid foods, because a friend told him he can choke. We have tried in many different ways to explain to him that if he chews his food right (like he has always done) there is not going to be a problem. He puts food in his mouth and he just won't swallow. He is a very happy, and active boy, but this really concerns me, is like he developed a phobia for swallowing. He only wants to have liquids. He has lost some weight, I can notice that, but I don't know what else to do to take that phobia from him. Please advice, I am really stressed.
Submitted: 6 years ago.
Category: Parenting
Expert:  Jennifer replied 6 years ago.
Hello and thanks for using Justanswer.com!

You may try to make a game out of eating by tell him that everyone is going to take a bite then chew X number of times. If he's comfortable swallowing the food after chewing it completely, that's wonderful! You may even offer a small reward for when he is able to swallow the food (e.g., a sticker). Try not to pressure him too much, however. Let him know that whether he wants to swallow is up to him. If he's rather spit it out, he can. If he wants to chew longer, he can do that, too. The idea is to give him a sense of control over the situation.

Begin by first thickening the liquids he's already drinking -- Make smoothies out of fruit and yogurt, offer thick shakes and pureed soups. Then add more texture to what he's eating. Watery oatmeal, for example. Add a small amount of rice to his soup and see if he's interested in something with more consistency (e.g., mashed sweet potatoes). Make sure the flavors are things he's interested in -- brown sugar on the mashed sweet potatoes is enticing for many kids.

In the meantime, add more calories to his liquids by mixing whole milk with Carnation Instant Breakfast or other nutritional supplements. This will help to ensure he's getting the calories and vitamins / minerals he's lacking while he's protesting other foods.

If he's still avoiding eating solids 1-2 weeks from now, it may be time to contact his pediatrician. They may have some recommendations for other supplements he could benefit from and may refer you to a feeding specialist. If his anxiety over eating continues to be a problem, counseling may also be an effective solution to help him to learn how to cope with his fears. I wish you the best of luck!
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