How to introduce new foods to a picky autistic child?

Katrina - posted on 11/02/2012 ( 9 moms have responded )




Hi there, My son Christian is 3 and has autism. Getting Christian to eat is really hard and takes alot of effort. He barely touches anything unless it crunches such as goldfish, chips, cereal, etc. I can also get him to eat granola bars and rarely pudding (if its chocolate and cold). I am really worried that he isnt getting the nutrients and vitamins the good healthy stuff that he needs with what he is eating. He throws a fit and gags and crys and pushes things away when I try new things. I am very new to this and his diagnosis and me and his dad have been doing this alone and we are trying everything! Does anyone have any suggestions or help of any kind? Thank you!!

-Katrina and Christian!-


Maggie - posted on 11/06/2012




My daughter likes crunchy things too. I give her crunchy healthy foods. She will eat cold apples and cold carrots. You could even try freezing something. My daughter will eat frozen pizza. I get regular pizza and stick a couple slices in the freezer.

Other ideas: banana chips, nuts

I also give my daughter a crunchy multi vitamin.

Look into feeding therapy. There are websites with good ideas about letting them play with or just lick a f

[deleted account]

Hi Katrina,

Don't give up! :) The more times a new food is repeatedly introduced to a child (for both NT and on the spectrum), the more likely they are to learn to like it. So even if something has been rejected once, don't stop trying it. The key is to get him to actually taste it. We have a one bite rule: You must try at least one bite of everything on your plate, but you don't have to eat it. If the gag reflex truly kicks in, they can spit it out, but it has at least gone in the mouth. It will take determination to introduce a new rule like this, but emphasize that he doesn't have to eat it if he doesn't want to - just taste it once.

My son, 12 with Aspergers, eats quite a variety of foods now that he used to refuse when he was younger, as well as his 3 sisters (no dx). I work with parents of children with autism and adhd on implementing dietary changes that will help reduce or eliminate their child's symptoms and behaviors.

I see that your son eats a lot of grain products. Have you considered a GFCFSF (gluten, dairy and soy free) diet? Often kids who do well on this diet crave these foods. Eliminating these items, among others, can help reduce the extreme autistic behaviors as well, and that alone can help with the eating issues.

Michelle already posted some good tips like hiding veggies in foods he will eat, involving him in the process and not keeping junk food in the house that you don't want him to eat.

Others I would recommend are trying fresh fruits and veggies that are crunchy - crisp apples, carrot sticks, red/yellow sweet bell pepper slices, broccoli or cauliflower florets, salad with mild dressing, etc... Providing these with a fun, but healthy, dip will pack extra nutrition in.

I saw a really cute idea using ice cube trays - put a different veggie in each square with a dip in another and it's a fun presentation that could prompt him to eat it just for the pure novelty. Everyone reacts differently to these things, so keep trying until you find what works for Christian.

Does he have any interests that he focuses on? Use those in any way you can to encourage him to eat new foods. (When my son was younger and going through his space phase, I could get him to at least try new things if I told him it was astronaut food. He would try anything that an astronaut eats - maybe not past the first bite, but he'd try it!)

Hope that helps!


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View replies by

Cabacungans - posted on 09/19/2013




The best crunch with the best nutrition comes from freeze-dried foods. They are real fruits, vegetables, meats and dairy that can be eaten right out of the can. They're small bites and come packed with the vitamins and minerals of whole foods. They taste right, look right, smell right and are delicious not only to the child but to the whole family. Make them into any texture your child prefers. It's the easiest remedy I've ever seen. We've been using them for over 2 years.
Betty B. Ready,,

Lisa - posted on 12/12/2012




Some great advice here. Just a side note: not all ASD kids need to be on a gluten, dairy, and soy free diet. My 5 year old loves cheese and eats a lot of it. It's a major source of calcium for him and would be greatly missed from his diet. Also, he loves turkey and avocado sandwiches with havarti cheese on Oatnut bread. He also eats spaghetti once or twice a week. These grains are significant sources of nutrition for him and since he shows no signs of food allergies, I feel we would be greatly curtailing his chances to get a balanced diet if we took them out.

User - posted on 12/11/2012




My son is 3 and has ASD, he can be very picky and one day he loves foods but then the next day he don't. It's frustrating, but I show him a treat that he loves and he can have it if eats the lunch that he has. Surprisingly it starting to work, he loves treats but is good too and loves fruit like apple's, oranges and raisins and currants too.

Hope - posted on 11/13/2012




How is he doing in occupational therapy? Your therapist should give you info and help guiding you and your son into introducing new textures and types of foods, that your little one can handle without puking/ gagging. My son is 2 yrs and 6months and is just starting some solid foods, and he still has certain textures that his tongue and jaw development cannot handle. He is getting occupational therapy for his surroundings and mostly for his food/textures eating development. For my son, his therapist suggested 17- 20 times to introduce a texture at a time, meaning it might take 20 days with a certain food being fed at lunch if he doesn't puke and gag on it before we try another more-solid texture or different texture. If he gags and pukes on a bite of it, then we stop that and try something else and see how he handles that. Also, playing with various textured toys helps with this feeding texture issue on foods. (Supervised playing with playdough, stringy, rubbery small ball, stickers etc.) Talk with your child's dr about getting an occupational therapist if you don't have one if you do, bring up the feeding issues to him/her. Good luck.

Patty - posted on 11/07/2012




I would talk with the doctor to make sure they are getting everything they need. I work with a guy who only eats 7 foods. My daughter is aspi she would only eat particular foods and only particular brands. She also will only drink water from particular faucets in the house. I too also had the one bite rule plus I tell her that it takes 50 times trying before you will like it. As she has entered the teen years, she has begun to like more foods. At this stage we have her take a liquid vitamin in which we had to try out over a dozen until we landed on this prenatal vitiamin which has a ton of vitamin D since we live in the Northwest.... no sun.

Michelle - posted on 11/04/2012




My son just turned 5 and has aspergers with his sensory issue being taste as well. Now he's older I've found if he watches me cooking or gets to help he is more inclined to try something new. But when he was 3 he lived pretty much only on plain pasta and mashed potato. I bought multivitamins for him and ensured that There was never anything in the house (like junk food which he would sometimes eat) try different foods with onlya few things in it. Because he likes crunchy food try making crumbed chicken on wraps with crunchy lettuce or nachos because the chips are crunchy. Getting him more involved might help and then you can at least hide veggies in the food, (mashed cauliflower in the eggs when you crumb the chicken ect

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