Helping Children with Autism Try Different Foods

a child with autism  using an adaptive communication  device
Helping children on the Autism Spectrum try new foods can be a challenge. Here are some tips to help.
May 21, 2023

It can be challenging for parents of children with autism to get their child to try new foods. Many children with autism have limited dietary preferences and may be resistant to trying new foods due to sensory issues or a need for routine. However, it is important for children with autism to have a varied diet for proper nutrition and to expose them to new flavors and textures. Here are some tips for helping children with autism try different foods:

Start with small amounts: Introduce new foods in small amounts to allow your child to gradually get used to the new taste and texture. You can gradually increase the amount as your child becomes more comfortable with the food.

Use positive reinforcement: Encourage your child to try new foods by praising them for their efforts and providing rewards such as stickers or small toys.

Make it fun: Make mealtime fun by using food as a play material. For example, you can create fun shapes and designs with different foods on their plate.

Offer a variety of textures: Children with autism may be more receptive to trying new foods if they have different textures. Offer a mix of crunchy, soft, smooth, and chewy foods to give your child a variety of textures to explore.

Expose them to new foods in different ways: Children with autism may be more likely to try new foods if they are exposed to them in different ways. For example, you can offer the same food in different forms such as roasted, steamed, or pureed. You can also mix small amounts of new foods with familiar foods to make them more palatable.

Be patient: It can take time for children with autism to try new foods. Be patient and don't get discouraged if your child doesn't try a new food right away. Keep offering the food and eventually they may be more willing to try it.

Involve your child in meal preparation: Involving your child in meal preparation can make them more interested in trying new foods. They may be more willing to try foods they have helped prepare or have had a hand in selecting.

Make meals a social activity: Children with autism may be more likely to try new foods if they are eating with others. Make mealtime a social activity by having your child eat with the rest of the family or with friends.

Consider talking with their therapist: If you are having trouble getting your child to try new foods, consider working with a therapist. A therapist can help you identify any sensory issues your child may have and provide strategies for overcoming them.

Don't force it: It is important to respect your child's feelings about trying new foods. If they refuse to try a new food, don't force them to eat it. Offer the food again at a later time and continue to offer a variety of healthy options.

By following these tips, you can help your child with autism try new foods and expand their dietary preferences. It may take time and patience, but with persistence and a positive attitude, you can help your child develop a varied and nutritious diet.