Other Feeding Issues
What are sensory feeding issues?
These are issues where something about the way food looks, tastes, smells, or feels is overwhelming or uncomfortable to a child.
Children with sensory feeding issues commonly have difficulty transitioning from one food texture to another. They may remain "stuck" on liquids or "stuck" on pureed foods and refuse foods with more texture. Sometimes children with sensory issues have uncontrollable gagging or vomiting reactions to foods.
What are behavioural feeding issues?
These include all other problem behaviours that occur around meals. Examples include but are not limited to: refusal to sit at the table for meals, refusal to self feed (when able to do so), and disruptive mealtime behaviours such as throwing food, stealing food from others, crying screaming, vomiting to get out of a meal, and others.
Distinguishing sensory and behavioural feeding issues from other kinds of feeding issues
While some behaviours are clearly behavioural in nature others may not be as clear. Food refusal, for example, can be a behavioural problem, but it can also be caused by oral-motor, digestive or sensory problems. Therefore, before treating behavioural feeding problems, oral-motor and digestive issues must be ruled out or addressed first. Next, sensory issues and behavioural issues may need to be distinguished from one another, as sensory issues will probably require some form of sensory stimulation or de-sensitization, while behavioural issues may require other kinds of strategies.
Food Selectivity- A sensory or behavioural feeding issue?
Food selectivity means being very selective about the foods one eats. Food selectivity differs from "pickiness" in degree. Picky eaters usually eat at least one food from all of the food groups. Children with food selectivity, however, often avoid one or more food groups entirely. They may eat no fruits or vegetables and/or no meats. They may eat no red foods, or no green foods, or no smooth or wet foods. They may eat only one brand of a particular food and refuse to eat any other brand. They may drink only water and refuse all other beverages. They may eat no more than 3-5 different foods altogether.