Raising a child with special needs presents distinctive challenges, especially during mealtimes. Picky eating is a prevalent concern among children, and can become more demanding when combined with sensory processing challenges or oral motor differences. With patience, empathy, and practical techniques, you can help address these difficulties and create a more positive food experience.

  1. Create a Positive Mealtime Environment: Establish a calm and positive atmosphere during mealtimes. Set a regular schedule, ensure minimal distractions, and create a comfortable space for your child to eat. Positive reinforcement, such as praising their efforts or using a rewards system, can also encourage them to try new foods.

  2. Involve Your Child in Meal Planning and Preparation: Involving your child in meal planning and preparation can help them develop a sense of ownership and excitement towards food. Take them grocery shopping, let them choose a new ingredient to try, and involve them in simple food preparation tasks appropriate for their abilities.

  3. Offer a Variety of Foods: Expose your child to a wide range of foods, including different colors, textures, and flavors. Provide options from different food groups and be open to experimenting with new recipes. Even if your child only eats a limited number of foods, it's important to keep introducing new ones to expand their palate over time.


  1. Gradually Introduce New Foods: Instead of overwhelming your child with a whole new dish, introduce new foods gradually. Start by offering small portions or incorporating new ingredients into their favorite dishes. Over time, you can increase the quantity or variety of new foods to help them become more comfortable with unfamiliar tastes and textures.

  2. Make Meals Fun and Interactive: Engage your child's senses by making meals interactive and enjoyable. Use colorful dishes and/or utensils, arrange food in fun shapes, or create themed meals. You can also involve your child in food-related games, such as identifying different fruits and vegetables or using our Hide 'n Find Matching Tray.

  3. Seek Professional Advice: If your child's picky eating significantly affects their nutrition or quality of life, consult a healthcare professional or a registered dietitian specializing in pediatric nutrition. They can assess your child's specific needs, provide tailored advice, and address any underlying concerns or deficiencies.

  4. Practice Patience and Persistence: Remember that overcoming picky eating habits takes time and patience. Keep offering a variety of foods, even if your child refuses them initially. Encourage them to take small bites or simply interact with the new food. Celebrate small victories and avoid pressuring or forcing your child to eat, as this may lead to further resistance.

Supporting a picky eater with special needs can be challenging, but with the right strategies you can help your child develop a healthy relationship with food. By creating a positive mealtime environment, involving them in meal planning, gradually introducing new foods, and seeking professional advice when necessary, you can make significant progress. Remember, persistence, patience, and understanding are key to helping your child expand their food choices and embrace a varied and nutritious diet, ensuring they receive the vital nutrients they need to thrive.


More articles you might enjoy:

Yummy Cookie Recipe to Try This Weekend!

Making Hair Cutting Appointments a Success for Children with Special Needs

Sensory-Friendly Clothing: Tips for Comfort and Ease