Due to the current global pandemic, we are experiencing shipping delays. Apologies for any inconvenience caused & thanks for your understanding!

5 Easy Steps to Stop Special Needs Children Throwing Food

5 Easy Steps to Stop Special Needs Children Throwing Food

August 26, 2019

Mealtimes with a special needs child can, for some families, be a stressful experience - for everyone involved! A common issue for many parents and carers, is food throwing.  It is worth bearing in mind that sometimes children may throw food for a reaction and the best reaction might be to ignore the behaviour to see if it stops. If you have tried this and are stuck for ideas what to try next, below are five easy steps that you can explore to hopefully help stop this from happening.

1. Rule Out Underlying Medical Conditions

It can be difficult feeding a special needs child for a variety of reasons, but sometimes the reason can be due to an underlying medical issue. With that in mind, it is always best to speak to your GP or paediatrician regarding your child’s eating habits. Your child might be throwing food because they are finding it difficult to communicate their discomfort. A doctor can check whether your child has any gastro-intestinal problems, constipation, allergies, inflammatory and irritable conditions. They can also refer you to a Dietician for advice. 

It is also worthwhile booking a routine dental appointment to ensure that your child doesn’t have any oral problems causing them distress.

2. Explore Various Eating Aids

One of the common special needs challenges many parents find is sensory issues. Sensory issues can result in children not liking the appearance, smell or feel of certain foods. If your child has sensory issues it may be beneficial seeking advice from an Occupational Therapist who can provide specific eating aids, which might help, such as weighted and angled cutlery. It is also beneficial to not overload your child’s plate or tray with too much food as this can become overwhelming.

One particular special needs eating aid that SpecialKids company recommends is the Tray Buddi. The Tray Buddi is designed to attach to most highchairs, booster seats, strollers and wheelchairs as long as they have an attachable tray. It can help your child keep their food on the tray and prevent it from going on the floor. The Tray Buddi is easy to wipe clean and is dishwasher safe - something every parent likes to hear!

3. Create a Calm and Patient Atmosphere

Children with special needs can experience anxiety around mealtimes so it is important to try and create a calm atmosphere and be patient with them. You could use PECs or a social story to explain that it is time for a meal and the process around mealtime.

Remember, forcing your child to eat foods that they don’t want to can make their anxiety worse. 

If your child needs distractions to help them eat, don’t beat yourself up. Sometimes having a distraction such as music, the iPad or something else to hold can help children with sensory issues to eat.

You could also try changing the way that you present the food, for example making food look fun or grating something instead of chopping it up. This can be particularly effective for children who experience sensory processing issues.

4. Have a Routine

Routine is important, particularly for children with autism. As well as social stories and PECs, environmental cues are important for children with special needs. Ideally, you should sit and eat at the table with them, setting an example.

Things like, washing hands, setting the table and sitting together can become a calming ritual to prepare your child mentally for eating. This in turn, could have a positive impact on their behaviour. It might also be beneficial to put a time limit on mealtimes to help communicate that mealtimes are for eating and cut down on any snacks in-between.

5. Seek Advice from a Clinical Psychologist or Behavioural Specialist

If you can’t find the root of the problem, it is worthwhile seeing advice from a Clinical Psychologist or Behavioural Specialist who might be able to offer various tips on how to make your child feel more comfortable around food and stop them from throwing it.

We hope that these suggestions help. It is always worthwhile speaking to other parent carers to see what has worked for them. Please comment and share any suggestions that you have.

Leave a comment

Comments will be approved before showing up.

Also in Latest update

Planning COVID Safe Summer Activities for Children with Special Needs
Planning COVID Safe Summer Activities for Children with Special Needs

June 29, 2021

COVID-19 has quite literally taken over and changed our lives for the past year. And whilst the pandemic and lockdown restrictions are starting to ease up, it is still really important that we are mindful of protecting our families and others from this horrendous virus.

Read More

Choosing the right pet for children with special needs
Choosing the right pet for children with special needs

June 10, 2021

Choosing the right pet for any family is so important but it’s particularly important if you are introducing a pet into a family with a child who has special needs. More factors need to be taken into consideration such as sensory issues, allergies and the change of routine that they may bring.

Read More

Tips for Supporting Your Child in Virtual Learning
Tips for Supporting Your Child in Virtual Learning

May 12, 2021

Over the past year parents throughout the UK have developed a new found respect for teachers because of two dreaded words – home schooling. For many the challenge of juggling home schooling with working, housework, appointments, therapies – you name it – has been a challenge.

Read More