This is our problem: We have 2,5-year-old toddler who is a picky eater. Furthermore, she rejects to eat so many different types of food! Meat on her plate is something that makes her screams over and over. This is not how it was a year ago. As she’s growing bigger, limitations in food choices are expanding. For a family who has meat served almost daily, this has grown into a huge problem. If you are reading this post, this is probably something that bugs you too.
Signs toddler is having an oral sensory processing disorder
First thing I learned is that my toddler is showing signs of Oral Avoiding Behaviour (other types can be found in Oral Sensory System):
- avoiding certain textures of food (+)
- difficulty with new food (+)
- gags, chokes or drools often (-)
- difficulty using a straw (-)
- problems chewing or swallowing (+)
- avoids mushy foods (+)
Another thing I learned is that my child has crossed the line between picky eater and problem feeder in several categories:
- she has limited her food choices to less than 15 foods (at the moment she eats:  potatoes,  pasta – dry or with little sauce but nothing lumpy inside,  bread,  rice same as pasta,  soup only with noodles, no veggies,  French toast with eggs,  butter spread on bread,  fruit – apples and bananas,  pudding),
- she becomes emotionally upset when she is encouraged to interact with non-preferred foods,
- she refuses large categories of foods
- insist on foods being preferred in specific ways or will only eat a specific brand/style of food
- always eats food different than the rest of the family
- she has suddenly refused a food she previously preferred and never eat it again
Engage the whole family in managing toddler’s eating disorder
Several things we are going to try with our toddler to expand her food choices and more balanced diet:
- Change food she prefers in a way to add a bit of what she wouldn’t eat, maybe mixed in or chopped to small, undetectable size. It’s more likely she’ll try something well cooked and easier to chew and swallow.
- Change our daily menu for whole family to try to balance necessary daily intake of vitamins and minerals she looses rejecting meat (vitamin B12, vitamin D, calcium, iron, zinc and proteins). We’ll try to include more dairy products, cereals, soy products, dried beans, eggs, nuts, dry fruit.
- Continue to put on a plate everything we eat but don’t put on her any pressure to try what she doesn’t want because it proves to be contra-productive.
- Introduce her more often to different textures through play (sensory bins). Play with food!
- Offer different meals every 2,5 – 3 hours. And replace candies and salty snacks with fruits.
- Get the whole family to talk only positive things about food in our plates and skip negative (even when there is unpreferred food served on the table).
These things we’ll try to do as a family, including my older daughter who is old enough to reason with and who can be explained that there are types of food we need to eat although we might not prefer it.
Parents should seek help with toddler’s Sensory Processing Disorder
If a problem with picky eater becomes such that you, as a parent, notice that your toddler is losing on weight or doesn’t develop according to age, please make sure to consult your doctor! And take a look at Project Sensory – a place where parents, educators, and caregivers can come to find information, resources and tools to help support their child’s sensory systems.
One of the products offered through Project Sensory is Sensory Fix Toolkit and it contains amazing tools to help a child with SDP. A handpicked kit with 15 tools to help your child organize their sensory systems today, it also comes with a 1-year membership to Project Sensory’s exclusive printables club. Project Sensory will donate 1 Sensory Fix™ Kit to classrooms in need for every 20 kits purchased.
This post is part of the Decoding Everyday Kid Behaviors series hosted by Lemon Lime Adventures. In honor of Sensory Processing Awareness month, bloggers are sharing their favorite tips that can help ALL children. Be sure to hop over to read all of this month’s awesome sensory-related posts!