Sensory Diet Ideas for Oral Sensory Seeking Behaviors in Children

Children with sensory processing disorder have a neurological condition that prevents their brain from receiving the information needed to interpret sensory information correctly. As a result, they seek sensory input from outside stimuli in order to organize their bodies and stay focused. Every child may need a different type of input in order to stabilize himself, but parents and children can choose from a variety of options for children who seek oral input.

Calming Foods

Foods that require a lot of chewing may calm a sensory-seeking child. Chewy foods may include licorice, gummy fruits, granola bars or jerky. Crunchy foods could include unsalted pretzels, chips, popcorn, gum, apples or carrots. Other kids may prefer foods they can suck, such as lollipops or hard candies. Or, they can suck water from a sports bottle or a milkshake or pudding through a straw.

Foods to Alert

Some children will need sensory input to "wake up" their senses rather than calm them. These foods might include cinnamon or peppermint gum, salted pretzels or chips. Some children may crave specific strong tastes in foods and prefer sour foods, like lemons or lemon drops, while others may prefer spicy foods to wake their senses. These might include red hot candies or hot sauce.

Varied Temperatures

Very cold or mixed temperature foods may give your child the sensory input he needs. Offer frozen fruits or vegetables or ice pops to satisfy a child seeking cold input. Mixed temperature foods could include a taco with hot meat and cold toppings, hot soup with a spoonful of sour cream or an ice cream sundae with hot fudge.

Non-food Ideas

There are other ways besides food your child can get oral input. Some children may like sucking a pacifier or biting on rubber toys or tubing. Chewy tubes help older children to keep from chewing on their hands or other non-food objects and help them to focus. Blowing a whistle or bubbles may also have a calming effect. Or, try having your child blow bubbles through a straw or a ping pong ball across a table. Vibrating oral-motor tools also may be used to give sensory input.