How Sensory Processing Disorder Impacts Picky Eaters

A Safe Child Alternative to toothpick

Many children are picky eaters, we all know that. But most parents just think it’s a phase they will grow out, which most likely it is. However, some children might have a Sensory Processing Disorder, which is the leading cause of picky eaters. But don’t worry, this is not a bad thing.

What is Sensory Processing Disorder?

According to WebMD, it is a condition in which “the brain has trouble receiving and responding to information that comes in through the senses”, also known as sensory integration dysfunction. Those with this can experience anything from being extremely sensitive with a tag on the back of their shirt to even the sounds of birds chirping. This also impacts up to 16% of school-aged children in the United States. So how exactly does this relate to picky eaters? Good question.

How it Impacts Picky Eaters

Those who have a Sensory Processing Disorder can also be sensitive to the feel of different textures on the skin or in the mouth, in addition to a different type of taste. In order words, something that might taste delicious to you might actually taste quite odd to your children. This means when you hear your child say “Yuck!” they actually might be right!

What are the signs?

The biggest sign is the behavior of your child. If your child is eating less than ten foods, while at the same time not willing to try new foods, it could be a warning sign, especially until they are eight years old. For instance, if their behavior is extreme enough that when meal times come around, your family routine is being disruptive, your child might have a disorder. Another sign is if your child doesn’t enjoy having “messy” hands when they eat. For example, if your child starts to cry until you wipe their hand or use a napkin with them, or even touching random things at random times, they might have the syndrome.

What if Your Child Has a Sensory Processing Disorder?

1) Go to the Doctor – If you think your child has this, your doctor will be the best to provide tips and techniques
2) Try your best for them to use all of their senses when doing activities – You want your child to play in a certain way so they can learn to respond in the appropriate way.
3) Slowly introduce new types of food – If your child starts to use foods that have different textures, it will help with them with recognizing different types of food.
4) Make mealtime fun – This can include talking about fun stories or have them use a fun utensil during meal times.
5) Use positive reinforcement – if they tried something that they never tried beforehand, praise them on their effort, rather than talking down on them on something they didn’t do.

Again, please remember this is normal in children. If you have any other tips or techniques, let us know!