Simone Emery is mother of 2, wife and owner of Play with Food in Sydney, Australia. Simone has a masters degree in food studies, certificate in childrens nutrition and attended SOS Feeding Therapy training. Play with Food run healthy eating experiences for children. Play with Food offer set programs and can also tailor workshops or programs to groups.
1)You run ‘fruit and vegetable classes’ for children – can you tell me a bit about what this entails?
I run fun group classes for children that use fruits and vegetables. I run the classes for 3 age brackets; 18mth – 3yrs, 3yrs-5yrs and 5yrs-7yrs. Each age bracket has their own developmental considerations causing different eating behaviours. We sing, play, explore and laugh our way through weekly 45 minute classes. The children are encouraged to play with the food to a level they are comfortable with. For example, while we are playing with carrot some kids may be happy to roll it on their fingers and others may kiss it and others will eat it. Parents learn routines, nutritional information and food preparation ideas that they can take home with them.
2) How did you become interested in helping children eat well?
I spent my pre-baby days working in the food manufacturing environment. I held roles in food technology, quality assurance, health and safety. I wanted a career change that maximised my food knowledge, love of cooking and my passion for learning and development. I had a keen interest in children’s feeding from a mother’s perspective. I studied children’s nutrition whilst on maternity leave & started looking for my career change opportunity. I fall more in love with helping children develop healthy eating skills each day. It is so rewarding.
3) What’s your take on picky eating?
I feel that it’s important for every parent to walk in their child’s shoes and recognise their individuality. I think there is a level of picky eating that will arise during fussy times for all children. There are also sensory, oral motor, dietary sensitivity and pain associations during feeding for some children. These feeding issues can be mistaken as picky eating. I use the term “picky eater” (or fussy eater in Australia) for parents as it is a commonplace term they can relate too, however, using labels can be detrimental to the child and will also form a barrier for parents too.
4) If you were asked to give a new parent one piece of advice about how to help children form a positive relationship with food, what would that be? Continue reading