Children who present with sensory difficulties can have nutritional deficiencies. It is important to ensure your child is getting the proper nutrients necessary to stay healthy. There are two types of eaters, picky eaters and problem eaters. A child is considered a picky eater when he/she eats more than 30 different foods. They generally eat a variety of fruits, vegetables, lean meats etc. They’re selectivity regarding foods is usually behavioral rather than a sensory issue. A problem eater is a child who eats less than 20 foods. These children usually have either hyper-sensitivity or hypo-sensitivity. Children who are hyper-sensitive often gravitate towards bland foods, such as breads and pastas where as children with hyper-sensitivity tend to prefer foods that are stimulatory such as spicy or hot food.
If your child is a problem eater, the following techniques may help introduce new foods into your child’s repertoire:
- Use a food processor, to make soft foods such as creamy chicken.
- Let your child pick their own condiments, this will give the child some control as well as pair a preferred food with a new food.
- For those children who are color sensitive regarding food, try hiding nutrient filled food into their preferred color food. For example blending vegetables into brownies.
It is best not to pressure your child into trying new foods but encourage them to explore new foods at his/her own pace.