Therapy for Picky Eating
in Massapequa & East Northport, NY

Dealing with a picky eater is a near-universal parenting experience. Most parents and caregivers of young children have probably heard, “I don’t like that food” or “Ew, gross!” at least once or twice. But what do you do when your child is so picky about food that it starts affecting their health? At Sensational Development, we have the tools to help picky eaters overcome their challenges so they can enjoy the variety of nutritious foods their growing bodies need. Keep reading to learn more about picky eating, what can cause it, and how our pediatric therapists can help.

What Is Picky Eating?

Picky eating can usually be broken down into one of two things: either it’s simply a matter of preference or, in some cases, it’s a sensory processing issue. Everyone has food preferences. Some people don’t like olives, some people love the spiciest food they can get. But when it’s just a preference, a picky eater still can eat foods they don’t like (even if they aren’t too happy about it!).  

Sensory-based picky eating, however, is not so simple. A child with a sensory-feeding challenge can experience distressing emotional or physical reactions if they are made to eat a food they don’t want because it’s not just a preference—it’s a genuine struggle. Children with sensory processing disorder can be overwhelmed by sensory input like taste, texture or smell. It can be so severe that it affects the child’s physical health and emotional wellbeing. 

Signs of a Sensory-Feeding Challenge

Recognizing signs of sensory-feeding challenges is crucial for understanding if your child’s picky eating is just a preference or if it’s a sign of sensory processing issues. Common signs include:

  • Refusal to eat certain textures or food groups
  • Strong aversions to specific smells or tastes
  • Limited variety of acceptable foods
  • Anxiety, fear, or crying during mealtimes
  • Meltdowns or temper tantrums during mealtimes
  • Preferring not to eat at all rather than eat an unwanted food
  • Gagging, choking, or vomiting during meals

How Sensory-Feeding Challenges Can Impact a Child's Health

Severe picky eating due to sensory processing challenges can affect your child’s physical and emotional health. Without treatment, sensory-feeding challenges can lead to:

  • Health issues or illness due to poor nutrition
  • Stunted growth and development
  • Negative associations with food that can lead to eating disorders
  • Difficulty in social situations that include food

How Pediatric Therapy Helps Children with Sensory Feeding Challenges

At Sensational Development, our experienced pediatric therapists do comprehensive evaluations to identify the root causes of picky eating. We provide individualized treatment plans that incorporate sensory integration strategies to help your child overcome their sensory-feeding challenges. 

Through proven, play-based activities, we can help your child learn to better tolerate a variety of food tastes, smells, and textures for better nutritional intake. We use occupational therapy techniques to address anxiety or emotional regulation around food so that your child develops positive associations with food and your family can enjoy mealtimes together. 

Schedule an Appointment Today

If you’re concerned about your child’s picky eating habits, Sensational Development is here to help. Give us a call at (516) 799-2900 to schedule an evaluation, and let’s work together to give your child the tools they need for a sensational future.