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Sensory-Friendly Activities for Children to Support Mealtime Picky Eating



Hey there, amazing caregivers! Today, we're diving into the world of sensory-friendly activities that can support your child's picky eating challenges during mealtimes. As a pediatric occupational therapist, I'm thrilled to share fun and engaging strategies to make mealtimes a positive and enjoyable experience for both you and your child. Get ready to unleash the power of play and discover new possibilities! Let's jump right in!


1. Sensory Exploration Station:

Create a sensory exploration station to engage your child's senses and make mealtime more exciting. Fill containers with various foods, such as cooked pasta, diced fruits, or crunchy vegetables. Encourage your child to touch, smell, and explore the textures of the foods. This playful activity helps desensitize sensory aversions and fosters curiosity about new flavors and textures.


2. Food Art Adventures:

Transform mealtime into a creative adventure with food art! Encourage your child to use different fruits, vegetables, and other nutritious ingredients to create imaginative and colorful masterpieces on their plate. Let their creativity run wild as they build houses from carrot sticks, create flower gardens from sliced cucumbers, or draw funny faces using various foods. Food art makes mealtime exciting and encourages your child to engage with new foods in a playful and non-threatening way.


3. Sensory-Friendly Cooking:

Involve your child in age-appropriate cooking tasks to promote sensory exploration and familiarity with various ingredients. Let them touch and smell different herbs, measure ingredients, stir batter, or sprinkle toppings. This hands-on experience not only increases their comfort level with food but also fosters a sense of ownership and pride in their creations. Cooking together strengthens the positive associations with food and makes mealtimes more enjoyable.


4. Food Tasting Challenges:

Turn food tasting into an exciting challenge! Create a "taste test" game where your child blindfolds their eyes and tries different foods, guessing the taste or texture. This activity encourages exploration, reduces anxiety, and introduces new flavors in a playful and non-judgmental way. Celebrate their guesses, even if they're not quite accurate, and offer gentle encouragement to keep trying new foods.


5. Storytelling Adventures:

Make mealtime storytelling a regular tradition. Encourage your child to create imaginative stories featuring different foods as characters. Engage their senses by describing the colors, smells, and textures of the food in the story. This activity promotes a positive association with food and encourages your child to embrace a wider variety of flavors and textures.


Sensory-friendly activities offer a fantastic way to support your child's picky eating challenges during mealtimes. By incorporating play, exploration, and creativity, you can create a positive environment that encourages your child to try new foods and embrace a wider variety of flavors and textures. Let's embark on this sensory journey together! Unleash the power of play and explore new possibilities at mealtimes.


Samantha Stern, MS, OTR/L

CEO & Occupational Therapist






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