Increasing Oral Strength, Awareness, & Sensory Aspects with Foods

Food is glorious! Strong flavors put your nervous system in a state of instant alert. For children with oral motor issues, it's not just a question of taste. They often need extra stimulation to help them become aware of their mouth’s capabilities. Children with oral weakness and oral sensory difficulties may stuff their mouth with foods or avoid certain foods and textures all together. Children can and will benefit from different eating experiences. Foods with various temperatures, assorted shapes and textures and tastes are all designed to stimulate mouth receptors, so your child has better awareness of the position of the lips, tongue, teeth, and jaw.

Things to try:

Sweet versus sour
Mints, garlic, fresh lemon or lime, jellybeans

Hot or cold
Change the temperatures of food or drink items. Serve chilled grapes or a warm drink through a straw.

Soft or hard
Mix harder foods with softer foods such as yogurt with granola or peanut butter to sliced celery sticks.

Shape and size
Cut food such as sandwich into small cubes or make chicken in long strips.

Thick versus thin
Experiment with different size straws while sucking up different textures such as pudding, applesauce, or a milkshake.

Tooth-brushing
Brush the sides of your child’s tongue, gums and inside of the cheeks while using different flavored toothpaste.