Tips for Eating with Our SEVEN Senses – Part Two: Touch and Sound
In Part One of this series on Eating with Our SEVEN Senses, we explored the sense of sight, smell and taste and offered tips for encouraging a child to explore foods via those sensory pathways. In Part Two, we will explore the tactile (touch) and auditory (sound) sensory systems and offer tips on how to help your child become more adventurous via both of these sensory systems.
In our book, Raising a Happy, Healthy Eater, we encourage parents to let their kids get messy:
“The skin is rich in nerve endings, especially on the palm of the hands and the fingers. But the inside of the mouth has even more! Babies are programmed to explore the world with the hands and mouth. One of the first fine motor skills that an infant acquires is the ability to bring their hands, and eventually, a toy, to their open mouths. This innate drive to explore the world via hands, fingers, and mouth is also the first step to learning about new foods.”
When we prevent kids from exploring, they don’t have the opportunity to experience food on the most basic level – through touch. When children are allowed to hold foods in their hands, get messy hands and faces and even play in food away from mealtimes, they learn all the properties of food (temperature, texture, weight, etc.) before tasting it. Here are a four articles that explain the importance of getting messy and tips for making it fun:
- You Want My Kid to Play in Food? Seriously? Read here.
- Learning about New Foods without Eating: 5 Surprising Tips: Read here.
- Baby Led Weaning: A Developmental Perspective. Read here.
- I Can Do it Myself! Messy Steps to Self-feeding. Read here.
Take a bite of carrot, begin to crunch and then, plug your ears and listen. Does the crunch sound different with your fingers in your ears? That’s because you’re hearing the crunch via bone conduction, where the sound waves travel through the bones in your face to the inner ear. It’s a fun experiment for kids too!
Sound is a major component of our eating experience, but we often don’t realize it. For kids with sensitive auditory systems, background noise in the school cafeteria or in restaurants may change their perception of taste. Sound can be away for children to have fun build familiarity with a new food. When we teach preschoolers to make Tangy Broccoli Salad from doctoryum.org, we ask to rub their finger against the broccoli to make a “squeak.” Here are two articles that further explain the relationship between sound and comfort when eating:
- Our Perception of Taste: What’s Sound Got to Do with It? Read here.
- Understanding Autism: Restaurant Meltdowns. Read here.
In our next post, we’ll explore the vestibular and proprioception systems – two sensory pathways that influence our ability to eat in very surprising ways!
Pediatrician Nimali Fernando, MD MPH and feeding specialist Melanie Potock, MA CCC-SLP are the co-authors of Raising a Healthy Happy Eater: A Parent’s Handbook. A stage-by-stage guide to setting your child on the path to adventurous eating, their book offers tips for all children and for all parents! Dr. Fernando is the founder of The Doctor Yum Project, a non-profit focused on creating a culture of wellness for families across the country. Melanie is the founder of My Munch Bug and an international speaker and media consultant on the topic of kids, food and hesitant eating. Together, they teach children to become food explorers! Learn more at www.ParentingInTheKitchen.com.