Feeding problems

Eating/Feeding concerns and how to address them (Picky Eaters)

This is for picky eaters, kids with autism, sensory food avoidance, etc...

This is an idea of how to introduce new foods that I have come up with based on observing different interventions teachers, OTs, therapists, parents, etc have used with kids. I cannot and will not guarantee this will work, but its just a suggestion to try.
The basic idea is to offer/present or insist on trying the new food BEFORE they get the food they want. Do not even show them their preferred food when presenting the new food. New foods must be offered SEVERAL times on different occasions for kids to try to see if they will like it/eat it. Don't give up after just one attempt!!  
Also often children will eat more/different foods at school, or with peers/siblings/friends/cousins/etc MORE OFTEN than just with mom/dad at home, so try sending in different food options to school, invite kids over at home to all eat foods, etc. 
When I talk about "New or Different" foods I mean normal kid food that the child refuses, nothing that is usually an acquired taste like some different cultural or "ethnic" foods, sushi for example if family is not Asian, certain vegetables like Asparagus most kids don't prefer for example. Ask/observe other kids to find out what is "normal" kid foods in your area/culture. 

Using a "First/Then" chart card may be helpful for visual learners (most autistic kids).




Feeding Behavior Protocol

Present new food daily, or at least several times/week. Child must do Step (below) first, then receive preferred foods.  Once the Step (that you are on) has been successful for 5 consecutive days, move on to next step in sequence. If unsuccessful, go back to previous successful step. Don’t pressure child or make it feel like a punishment. Make it relaxed. Model eating different foods for child, offer child to eat off parents plates, have peers/siblings model eating the new food as well (if possible). Keep trying new and different foods. Research shows child may need to be presented with new foods 20 times before will eat/try it. Skip Steps below if your child is already past that stage (don’t go backwards if unnecessary)

(** Note - most kids will be at step # 3, 4, or 5 to start. Some kids may need pre step or steps 1-2 to start)

Pre-steps: (Use if child is avoidant of touching certain textures like pudding for example)

– Have child first touch food with one finger (or touch food with a plastic glove on, or in a plastic bag)

-Have child put hands in food, then wash off /remove quickly

-Move to step 1:


  • Step 1: Touch food to mouth
  • Step 2: Lick food
  • Step 3: Take a tiny bite “mouse bite”
  • Step 4: Take a larger bite “elephant bite”
  • Step 5: Eat new food (1)
  • Step 6: Eat full serving of new food
  • Step 7: Try another new food!! Repeat Steps 1-7 as needed