Dinoduo’s two step approach to the Fussy Eater

Is your child a fussy eater?   There are lots of reasons for a child to be a fussy eater. It can be very frustrating when you spend time preparing a delicious dish and your child refuses to eat it. One possible reason why a child can be a fussy eater is because they do not like the sensation of the food; this can be the touch sensation or the smell of the food.

Does your child dislike messy play on their hands?

Does your child have a strong preference for dry, non-messy foods ?

Does your child prefer you to feed them just in case some food might spill?

Does your child dislike finger feeding foods?

Does your child become upset if food spills onto their hands or their face?

Does your child dislike tactile experience to their face, hats, face paints, scarves, etc?

If you answer yes to any of these questions, your child may be a fussy eater because of the texture of the food.  Dinoduo would like to help.  Understanding your child has a difficulty with wet textures is the first step and can help your child feel more supported when eating.  Dinoduo recommends the following two step approach to reduce your child’s negative response to messy food.

Step 1

Desensitise the face and hands to messy textures.  The following activities calm your child’s sensory systems and make it easier for your child to tolerate messy textures.

  • Deep pressure massage to the hands and body, apply long deep strokes to your child’s arms, back, legs and hands. Give a little massage and see how your child responds to it, if they like it, give them some more.
  • Deep pressure massage with your finger applied to your child’s face may help your child accept a variety of textures. Use your index finger and start at the forehead, applying deep pressure downward strokes. Again, give a little deep pressure massage and the wait to see your child’s response, if they enjoy it, offer them another little bit.  If your child tolerates the strokes to the forehead, slowly move downwards, side of the face, side of the nose, along the chin until eventually you are providing some deep massage to your child’s mouth area. Only do as much as he/she tolerates, do not keep going if he/she want you to stop.
  • Heavy work activities have been shown to be calming on a child’s sensory system. Dinoduo recommends lots of crawling, climbing, pushing and pulling activities for a few minutes prior to the messy play. These heavy work activities can help settle your child’s tactile system
  • Gentle, rhythmical repetitive movement can also help calm a child’s sensory systems. A gentle rock on a rocking chair or rocker, a gentle swing on a swing or a softly moving to a song  can all soothe an irritated sensory system.

Different children have different preferences. Dinoduo recommends trying some of the above and see how your child responds to the different input to discover your child’s preference .

Once you have soothed your child’s sensory system, your child is ready for the next step.

Step 2

Offer lots of tactile play, start with drier textures and then gradually make the textures more wet and sticky.

If your child is reluctant to get stuck in that is ok, they may not like that particular texture. Show him/ her how much you are enjoying the messy play.  Provide some utensils to allow your child to play with the messy play-stuff without having to touch it; gradually they will begin to get more involved. Provide a wet facecloth or wipes and allow your child to wipe their hands if they are upset by the messy play on their hands. They will gradually build up their confidence as they have more and more exposure to the messy play.

Dinoduo have lots of great Messy Food play ideas. –

Photo by Rainier Ridao on Unsplash