Tweddle World Mental Health Day

Occupational Therapy Students' Food Pouch Findings

Occupational Therapy Students’ Food Pouch Findings


By Stephanie Mackinnon & Ween Min Kang

This month, Tweddle welcomed two 3rd year Occupational Therapy (OT) students from Australian Catholic University (ACU), Stephanie Mackinnon and Ween Min Kang.

Occupational therapy is an allied health profession that aims to promote participation in activities that are meaningful/important to an individual by addressing environmental, personal, or task-related barriers. With no OTs at Tweddle, the students found it challenging to find their place and how they could have an impact.

Conversations with Tweddle staff members such as the Early Parent Practitioners (EPP) and Play Practitioners, revealed how aspects of OT are present in many areas of the organisation: from the impact of play on development to the importance of routine for children.

These conversations also drew the students’ attention to staff members’ concerns about how many parents rely on food pouches due to convenience. Prior to this, they were not aware of this issue as food pouches are advertised as “all natural with no additives” and child-friendly. They appear to be an easy choice for parents who want their children to meet their nutritional needs.

Upon further research, it was discovered just how impactful reliance on these food pouches can be on a child’s development and nutritional intake. For example, a child who is accustomed to sucking food out of a pouch will lack the opportunity to practice manipulating food with his hand, which may hinder development of fine and gross motor skills.

The students used this new knowledge as the basis for their project over the five weeks. They have created a booklet for parents and caregivers, highlighting the impact of food pouches on a child’s development and additional child nutritional information.

This booklet aims to serve as an informative and approachable resource for parents and caregivers that come into Tweddle. It provides them with the facts to make informed decisions about whether they would purchase these food pouches or not in the future, and encourage them to consider alternatives.

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