I am a paediatric feeding psychology specialist based in Ireland, providing online support to parents anywhere in the world. I am interested in feeding dynamics and psychological aspects of feeding, as well as sensory and oral-motor challenges that can impact eating.
I have an honours BA Degree and a Doctorate (PhD) from the School of Psychology at the National University of Ireland, Galway. My degree gave me a foundation in general psychology, with a focus on child development and health psychology. Following this, I was awarded a scholarship to do a PhD in the School of Psychology at NUI Galway. I spent the 4 years of my PhD studying and researching child feeding and children's eating behaviours. Specifically, I investigated parents' and children's beliefs, goals, strategies and experiences in relation to coping with, and overcoming, fussy eating challenges.
Training in Feeding Support
In addition to 4 years of PhD research, I have completed training in diverse approaches to assessing and managing feeding challenges. I am trained in the SOS (Sequential-Oral-Sensory) approach to managing problem feeding, developed by Dr Kay Toomey. SOS is an internationally recognised clinical programme which focuses on children's sensory processing and oral-motor challenges as well as psychological aspects of feeding. I have training in behavioural approaches to helping children with feeding challenges. This approach is about understanding the reason behind a child's eating behaviours and how these behaviours may be reinforced by parents' responses and other influences in the environment. I have completed 6 months of intensive clinical and theoretical training in EAF (Emotionally Aware Feeding), a responsive feeding approach developed by counsellor and feeding specialist Jo Cormack. EAF focuses on the psychological aspects of feeding and the parent-child feeding relationship. It is about lowering mealtime anxiety, fostering children's internal drives to eat and supporting children's autonomy. EAF helps parents to feel confident about feeding, supporting children to develop confidence in their eating.
Research and Teaching
I actively contribute to research in the area of child feeding and share research findings nationally and internationally. I have also tutored and lectured developmental psychology at the National University of Ireland, Galway for three years. Some of my recent publications and conference presentations include:
- Wolstenholme, H., Heary, C., & Kelly, C. (2019). Fussy eating behaviours: Response patterns in families of school-aged children. Appetite, 136, 93-102.
- Wolstenholme, H., Kelly, C., Hennessy, M., Heary, C. (2020). Childhood fussy eating: Systematic review and synthesis of qualitative studies. International Journal of Behavioural Nutrition and Physical Activity, 17(2).
- Wolstenholme, H., Kelly, C., & Heary, C. (2019, March). “It’s like I’m eating brains”: Children’s perceptions and experiences of fussy eating behaviour. Oral presentation presented at the International Conference on Children’s Eating Behaviour, Birmingham, UK.
- Wolstenholme, H., Heary, C., & Kelly, C. (2018, August). The family response to fussy eating in school-aged children: A qualitative study. Oral presentation presented at the European Health Psychology Society Conference, Galway, Ireland.
- Wolstenholme, H., Heary, C., & Kelly, C. (2017, September). Fussy eating in school-aged children: A mixed method study. Oral presentation presented at the European Health Psychology Society Conference, Padua, Italy.
I am a member of the Psychological Society of Ireland and follow their code of ethical practice.