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Why some children struggle with textures in food and how we can help them

As parents, we all want our children to eat a healthy and balanced diet. However, it's not uncommon for children to have difficulty with certain textures in their food. This can be frustrating for both parents and children and can lead to mealtime battles. In this article, we will explore why some children struggle with textures in food and what we can do to help them accept food in different textures.

Picky eater

Why is texture such a big part of picky eating?

As we already mentioned in our article on how to prevent picky eating, texture, as well as flavour (or even more) is the things lots of toddlers and children struggle with when it comes to food. There are a number of reasons why children may struggle with textures in food. Sensory processing issues are a common cause. Some children have a heightened sensitivity to certain textures, which can make them feel uncomfortable or even nauseous. Others may have a decreased sensitivity to textures, which can make it difficult for them to identify when they have food in their mouth or to chew their food properly.

Another reason why children may struggle with textures in food is due to oral-motor skill difficulties. These are the skills required for chewing, swallowing, and coordinating the muscles of the mouth. Children with oral-motor skill difficulties may find it difficult to chew and swallow certain textures of food, leading to avoidance.

What can we do to help children accept food in different textures?

Introduce new textures gradually

Introducing new textures gradually can help children adjust to new foods. Start with small amounts of the new texture and gradually increase the amount over time. This can help children get used to the texture without overwhelming them.

Use food chaining

Food chaining is a technique used to gradually introduce new foods that are similar in taste and texture to foods a child already likes. This can help children expand their food choices while still feeling comfortable with the texture of the food.

Make food fun

Making food fun can help encourage children to try new textures. Use cookie cutters to make fun shapes, serve food on colourful plates, or get creative with presentation. This can make mealtime more enjoyable and less stressful for both parents and children.

Incorporate food into play

Incorporating food into play can help children become more comfortable with textures. Let your child play with food, make mud pies with mashed potatoes, or build towers with vegetables. This can help them explore textures in a non-threatening way.

Seek professional help

If your child is struggling with textures in food, it may be helpful to seek the advice of a paediatrician, speech therapist, or occupational therapist. They can help identify any underlying issues and provide strategies for addressing them.

In conclusion, it's not uncommon for children to struggle with textures in food. Sensory processing issues and oral-motor skill difficulties are common causes. However, there are strategies parents can use to help their child accept food in different textures. Introducing new textures gradually, using food chaining, making food fun, incorporating food into play, and seeking professional help can all be effective strategies. With patience and persistence, children can learn to accept and enjoy a variety of textures in their food.