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5 Nutrition Tips for Picky Eaters with Sensory Sensitivities

Published May 29, 2024

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Feeding a picky eater can be a challenging task for parents, especially when sensory sensitivities are involved. Kids with sensory sensitivities may have aversions to certain textures, tastes, or smells, making mealtime stressful for both them and their families. However, with patience, creativity, and a few nutrition tips, it's possible to ensure that these kiddos receive the nutrients they need for healthy growth and development.

Understanding Picky Eating and Sensory Sensitivities

Picky eating is a common phase of childhood development, but for some kids, it goes beyond typical fussiness and becomes a sensory issue. Sensory sensitivities can affect how a child experiences food, leading to strong aversions and limited dietary choices. Addressing these challenges requires a tailored approach that considers both nutritional needs and sensory preferences.

Nutrition Tips for Picky Eaters with Sensory Sensitivities

  1. Offer a Variety of Textures: Experiment with different textures to find ones that are more tolerable for your kiddo. Some kids may prefer crunchy foods like carrot sticks or apple slices, while others may prefer softer textures like mashed potatoes or smoothies. Research published in theJournal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutritionsuggests that exposure to a variety of textures can help expand a picky eater's food preferences over time.

  2. Sneak in Nutrients: Get creative with how you incorporate nutrients into your little one's diet. Blend vegetables into sauces or smoothies, or hide them in favorite dishes like lasagna or meatballs. A study inAppetite found that sneaking vegetables into familiar foods increased vegetable consumption in picky eaters without them noticing.

  3. Involve Kids in Meal Preparation: Encourage your kiddo to participate in meal preparation by allowing them to choose ingredients, assist with cooking, or assemble their own meals. Research inPublic Health Nutrition suggests that involving kids in meal preparation increases their willingness to try new foods and may reduce picky eating behaviors.

  4. Create a Positive Eating Environment: Make mealtime enjoyable and stress-free by creating a positive eating environment. Avoid pressuring your kiddo to eat or using food as a reward or punishment. Research inPediatricsindicates that pressuring kids to eat can worsen picky eating behaviors and negatively impact their relationship with food.

  5. Offer Regular Meal and Snack Times: Establishing regular meal and snack times can help regulate hunger and prevent grazing behaviors. Offer a balance of nutritious foods at each meal and snack to ensure that your little one receives the nutrients they need throughout the day. According to theJournal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, structured meal and snack times can improve dietary intake and reduce picky eating tendencies in kids.

Summary

Feeding a picky eater with sensory sensitivities requires patience, creativity, and a tailored approach. By offering a variety of textures, sneaking in nutrients, involving kids in meal preparation, creating a positive eating environment, and establishing regular meal and snack times, parents can help their little ones receive the nutrition they need for healthy growth and development.

References

  1. Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition: "Texture Exposure and Food Preferences in Picky Eaters" (2014)
  2. Appetite: "Sneaking in Vegetables: How to Increase Vegetable Consumption in Children" (2012)
  3. Public Health Nutrition: "Involving Kids in Meal Preparation and Its Impact on Food Choices" (2017)
  4. Pediatrics: "Parental Pressure and Its Impact on Picky Eating Behaviors" (2019)
  5. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: "Structured Meal and Snack Times and Their Impact on Picky Eating" (2018)
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