Sensory Strategies to Help Decrease Texture Aversion and Hypersensitive Gag

Before mealtime:

  • Play with sensory-stimulating toys, such as koosh balls, peanut balls, bubbles, play-doh, massagers, any toys/books with interesting textures, etc.
  • Give the child sensory input through physical sensory-stimulating activities, such as bouncing on a ball, jumping, swinging, etc.

In preparation for mealtime:

  • Put the child in a highchair/booster seat.
  • Offer the child a Z-Vibe, textured massager, sensory chewies, etc. to play with before food is presented.
  • Use other sensory-stimulating techniques, including, but not limited to, a Sensory Mitt (rub on child’s legs, arms, head, and cheeks) and therapeutic brushes (rub on child’s legs and arms).
  • Use the “rough” side of a washcloth to wipe the child’s hands and face prior to the meal.

During mealtime:

There are many ideas/options to try with children who have aversions to textures.  Please remember that each child is different and there is no “one way” to decrease these aversions.  Helping a child to eat/touch/tolerate textures can be a long process and therefore “trial and error” is often the best way to “figure out” each individual child.  Parents, hang in there!

Good luck!


This is a guest post by Leila N. Bressler, M.Ed., CCC-SLP.  Leila is a pediatric speech-language pathologist who has been working with the Birth to Three population for almost ten years.  She has worked in the school setting and the clinical setting in both Georgia and South Carolina.   Leila is also a mother to a toddler and has learned a lot of her knowledge from her daughter.

For more tips on normalizing sensitivities, this article is also helpful.


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