If you are a parent of a toddler with autism, you may be struggling to get your little one to eat a variety of foods. Many children with autism are picky eaters and may have sensory issues with certain textures, smells, or tastes. However, it is important to ensure that your child is getting the nutrition they need to grow and develop properly. In this blog, we will explore some tips and strategies for getting your toddler with autism to eat different foods.
Start Small and Slow
Introduce new foods gradually and in small portions. Offer just a small taste at first, and don't force your child to eat more if they don't want to. It may take several exposures to a new food before your child is willing to try it, so be patient and persistent.
Make Food Fun
Children with autism often respond well to visual and sensory experiences. Use fun and creative ways to present new foods. For example, make a smiley face out of vegetables or fruits on their plate or use cookie cutters to create fun shapes. This can make mealtime more enjoyable for your child and may encourage them to try new things.
Use Positive Reinforcement
Praise your child when they try something new or even if they just show interest in a new food. Positive reinforcement can go a long way in encouraging your child to try new things. Consider offering a small reward, such as a sticker or a favorite activity, to further motivate your child to try new foods.
Involve Your Child in Meal Planning and Preparation
Involving your child in meal planning and preparation can help them become more invested in the process and may make them more willing to try new foods. Take your child with you to the grocery store and let them choose a new fruit or vegetable to try. Allow them to help wash, chop, or mix ingredients. This can make mealtime a fun and interactive experience for your child.
Consult with a Nutritionist
If you are concerned that your child is not getting the nutrition they need, consider consulting with a nutritionist who specializes in working with children with autism. They can provide you with guidance on how to ensure your child is getting all of the necessary nutrients in their diet.
Here are some examples of foods to try for picky eaters with autism:
Soft fruits like bananas, strawberries, or melons
Mashed potatoes or sweet potatoes
Soft-cooked vegetables like carrots, peas, or green beans
Yogurt or applesauce
Cheese or cottage cheese
Soft meats like chicken or fish
Oatmeal or cream of wheat
Smoothies with fruit and yogurt
Rice or quinoa
Nut butters like peanut or almond butter
Remember, when introducing new foods to picky eaters with autism, it's important to start with small portions and gradually increase the amount. Be patient and persistent, and don't be afraid to get creative with presentation or preparation to make foods more appealing to the senses.
Getting a toddler with autism to eat different foods can be a challenge, but with patience, persistence, and a little creativity, you can help your child broaden their palate and get the nutrition they need. Remember to start small, make food fun, use positive reinforcement, involve your child in meal planning and preparation, and consult with a nutritionist if needed. With these strategies, mealtime can become a positive and enjoyable experience for both you and your child.