Holiday Tips from our PFD Families

Published by Feeding Matters on Nov 10, 2021

For families of a child with PFD, holidays can look different. We gathered tips from our families that have helped make the holidays easier for their children.

  • We try to plan things that don't involve food. If there is food, we make a bigger deal about the people, event, and non-food treats.
  • My 6 year old doesn't like to sit at the table for long, so we try to plan non-food activities that allow her to sit and participate without a food focus.
  • Depending on their needs, allow children to plan parts of the meal to help them feel involved. It may help them want to try new things! My daughter helped plan certain foods for Thanksgiving last year, and this helped her try new things. She didn't eat much of them, but she sat more willingly with us at dinner because she wanted to see what everyone else thought of the food, and she was excited to try what she had planned.
  • If my daughter receives food treats at a gathering or event (or Halloween) that she cannot or will not eat, she can trade them in for non-food items.
  • Communicate, Communicate, Communicate. The sooner the better. We have so many good friends that really try to accommodate our daughter's needs by providing safe treats or non-food items. We also communicate with our daughter ahead of events, preparing her for any food challenges that may present themselves.
  • Offer to host at your home. I always host so I can plan safe foods. This takes the stress out of things and the kids have their rooms or areas were they feel safe once meals are prepped.
  • Plan holiday activities that are not focused on food. Find non-food things to celebrate. We do a non-food advent calendar every year with fun kids items. For older kids you can do small gift cards, gold dollar coins, books, etc. Lego and other toys make wonderful Advent calendars that kids love (we already got the Lego ones at Costco!).
  • At dinnertime, get fun activities for kids if they cannot have the food for any reason. There are many placemats, toys, and things kids can do at the table and still feel like part of the family dinner table.
  • I suggest reaching out to families and friends in advance letting them know that you’ll need a quiet space to feed your child without interruption and/or that your child may not be present at the table with the rest of the party. It’s totally okay to request accommodations!
  • Our son participates with food related activities such as getting candy ready for Halloween or making reindeer food for Christmas Eve by using tools to help provide another layer of security so he doesn’t have to touch the food. For example, he uses measuring cups to scoop out reindeer food, or tongs to help move rolls to a plate for Thanksgiving. We focus on doing tasks in short bursts, like asking him to move 3 pieces of candy and then praise, praise, praise.