Help Your Child Explore Oral Sensation

By Laura Funk, Occupational Therapist

Some children react negatively to the introduction to new textures of food and are extremely picky. Other children always seek out things to chew including his or her fingers, hands, and other non-food objects. A child could be overly sensitive to flavors, decreasing his or her willingness to try new foods, or may be under sensitive to taste, requiring high flavor, spice, or seasoning in order to experience a flavor.

The following activities are helpful to those children experiencing Sensory Processing Disorder related to oral sensory function.  As always, you should discuss this with your healthcare professional and choose activities that are most appropriate for your child’s specific needs.

Sensory Activities to Help Your Child Explore Oral Sensation

  • Encourage a child to explore food and textures.  Strategies such as “touch it”, kiss it”, or “lick it” can help a child feed more confident to try new foods.
  • Use a straw to drink liquids (water or a thick smoothie).  Drinking from a straw can be very calming to children.
  • Use divided plates to keep food separated during meals.
  • Have your child help to prepare food before eating it. Children are more likely to taste something they helped to make.
  • Consider a vibrating toothbrush or textured teethers to generate the oral sensation your child may be desiring.
  • For your sensory seeking child, you may want to encourage age appropriate crunchy, chewy, or cold snacks, such as pretzels, dried fruit, crushed ice, or frozen fruit pops to suck.

For more information about teli Early Intervention Services, call 412-922-8322.