Oral Sensory Activities: Exploring Tastes and Textures

oral sensory activities

At TheraPlay4Kids, we understand the importance of oral sensory activities in helping children with sensory sensitivities explore tastes and textures. These activities not only provide a fun and engaging experience but also promote the development of oral-motor skills.

Let me share a story that highlights the impact of oral sensory activities. Meet Emily, a five-year-old girl who had always been a picky eater. Her parents struggled to introduce new foods into her diet as she would often refuse to even taste them. Emily’s limited food choices worried her parents, who were concerned about her nutrition and overall well-being.

Emily’s occupational therapist recommended incorporating oral sensory activities into her daily routine to help her become more comfortable with different tastes and textures. Her therapist suggested experimenting with various cold foods, chewy items, crunchy snacks, and even spicy flavors to expand Emily’s palate.

Using popsicles and frozen fruit, Emily began experimenting with cold foods. The cool sensation on her tongue was a new and exciting experience for her. Gradually, she became more receptive to trying different textures, such as jerky snacks and dried fruit, which helped her develop better oral-motor skills.

Emily’s parents also encouraged her to explore crunchy foods, like raw vegetables and crackers, during snack time. These activities not only helped her develop stronger jaw muscles but also improved her tolerance for different textures.

As Emily grew more comfortable with exploring tastes and textures, her occupational therapist suggested introducing spicy foods, such as hot salsa and chili. This added an element of adventure to her meals and helped expand her palate even further.

Over time, Emily’s sensory exploration journey transformed her eating habits and improved her overall well-being. She became more willing to try new foods, and her parents noticed a positive change in her behavior and attitude toward mealtimes.

If you’re interested in exploring oral sensory activities for your child, stay tuned for the following sections where we will delve deeper into the importance of oral sensory processing, oral motor exercises, and taste sensory activities.

The Importance of Oral Sensory Processing

Oral sensory processing is a crucial aspect of a child’s development, particularly in areas such as feeding and eating skills, speech and language, and sensory regulation. TheraPlay4Kids.com explains that there are three sensory systems involved in oral processing: tactile (touch), proprioception (deep pressure), and taste.

These sensory systems provide feedback and input to the mouth and play a role in how a child processes oral information. Children with sensory sensitivities may exhibit behaviors related to oral seeking or avoidance. Some of the behaviors that may indicate oral seeking or avoidance, as highlighted by TheraPlay4Kids.com, include:

  • Excessive licking or chewing of objects
  • Sensitivity to certain tastes or textures
  • Difficulties with chewing or swallowing

Understanding and supporting a child’s oral sensory needs is crucial. This can be achieved through the implementation of a sensory diet and appropriate oral motor exercises. By addressing these needs, we can help children develop sensory integration skills, enhance their oral-motor abilities, and improve their overall sensory processing abilities.

One effective way to support a child’s oral sensory processing is by incorporating sensory-rich foods and activities into their daily routine. This could include offering a variety of tastes and textures, such as crunchy vegetables, chewy snacks, or smooth purees. Encouraging sensory exploration through age-appropriate activities can also be beneficial.

Oral Sensory Seeking vs. Oral Sensory Avoidance

Some children may engage in oral sensory seeking behaviors, where they actively seek oral input and stimulation. On the other hand, some children may exhibit oral sensory avoidance behaviors, where they avoid or have negative reactions to certain tastes, textures, or sensations.

To help determine a child’s oral sensory preferences, it is important to observe their behaviors during mealtimes and sensory activities. TheraPlay4Kids.com provides a comprehensive list of sensory behaviors related to both oral seeking and oral avoidance:

Oral Sensory Seeking Behaviors Oral Sensory Avoidance Behaviors
Excessive licking or mouthing of objects Refusal or avoidance of certain foods
Craving crunchy or chewy foods Sensitivity to certain tastes or textures
Biting or chewing on fingers or clothing Difficulty with chewing or swallowing

By recognizing these behaviors, parents and caregivers can create a supportive environment that addresses their child’s specific sensory needs. This may include providing appropriate oral sensory activities, offering a wide range of food choices that cater to their preferences, and consulting with therapists or healthcare professionals for additional guidance and support.

Incorporating oral sensory processing activities into a child’s daily routine can significantly contribute to their overall development and well-being. Through sensory exploration, appropriate sensory input, and targeted oral motor exercises, children can enhance their oral sensory processing skills and experience more positive and enjoyable mealtimes.

Oral Motor Exercises and Taste Sensory Activities

Oral motor exercises and taste sensory activities are highly beneficial for children with specific developmental needs, such as autism, ADHD, or sensory processing disorders. These activities not only enhance language skills but also improve chewing and swallowing abilities, leading to an overall enjoyable mealtime experience.

At TheraPlay4Kids.com, we understand the importance of making these exercises and activities fun and engaging for children. One approach we recommend is incorporating games like “Simon Says” or the hokey-pokey into oral motor exercises, making them more enjoyable and interactive.

When it comes to taste sensory activities, we encourage parents and caregivers to focus on texture, taste, and temperature during mealtimes. By exploring different flavors, trying new foods, and engaging in conversations about the characteristics of various snacks, children can develop a deeper appreciation for food and expand their taste preferences.

Examples of Taste Sensory Activities:

  • Exploring different flavors through a variety of foods
  • Trying new foods with different textures
  • Engaging in conversations about the taste and characteristics of different snacks

In addition to these activities, TheraPlay4Kids.com introduces the Soundsory® program. This innovative program combines enhanced rhythmic music with holistic exercises to support neurodevelopment in children, including enhanced oral motor skills and sensory processing abilities.

We believe that by incorporating oral motor exercises and taste sensory activities into a child’s daily routine, we can help them develop crucial skills, heighten their oral sensory experiences, and ultimately improve their overall well-being.

oral motor exercises and taste sensory activities


Oral sensory activities, oral sensory processing, oral motor exercises, and taste sensory activities are essential for promoting a child’s development and overall well-being. These activities provide opportunities for children to explore different tastes and textures, improving their oral-motor skills and language abilities. By incorporating fun and engaging strategies, parents and caregivers can support a child’s sensory needs and create positive experiences with food.

It is crucial to individualize these activities based on each child’s unique needs and preferences. By combining oral sensory activities, oral motor exercises, and taste sensory exploration, children can develop a healthy relationship with food and enhance their overall sensory processing abilities.

Remember, the goal is to make these activities enjoyable and a part of everyday routines, such as mealtime or playtime. By doing so, children can not only develop important skills but also gain confidence and comfort in their oral sensory experiences. Consult with healthcare providers or therapists specializing in sensory processing if you have concerns or need guidance in implementing these activities.


What are oral sensory activities?

Oral sensory activities are activities that involve the mouth and provide sensory input, such as exploring different tastes and textures. These activities can help children with sensory sensitivities to develop oral-motor skills and regulate sensory input.

Why are oral sensory activities important?

Oral sensory activities are important because they promote taste exploration, texture awareness, and oral-motor skill development. They can help children with sensory sensitivities improve their eating and drinking abilities and enjoy a wider variety of foods.

How can oral sensory activities benefit children with sensory sensitivities?

Oral sensory activities can benefit children with sensory sensitivities by helping them become more comfortable with different tastes and textures, improving their eating and drinking skills, and enhancing their overall sensory processing abilities.

What are some examples of oral sensory activities?

Examples of oral sensory activities include trying cold foods like popsicles or frozen fruit, chewing on chewy items like jerky snacks or dried fruit, exploring crunchy foods like raw vegetables or crackers, and tasting spicy foods like hot salsa or chili.

How can I support my child’s oral sensory needs?

You can support your child’s oral sensory needs by engaging in oral motor exercises, incorporating taste sensory activities into mealtimes, and consulting with their healthcare provider for guidance. It is important to individualize activities based on your child’s unique needs and preferences.

What should I do if I have concerns about my child’s eating habits or oral-motor skills?

If you have concerns about your child’s eating habits or oral-motor skills, it is important to consult with their healthcare provider. They can provide guidance and evaluate any underlying issues that may be impacting your child’s oral sensory processing abilities.

Can oral sensory activities help children with specific developmental needs?

Yes, oral sensory activities, along with oral motor exercises and taste sensory activities, can be beneficial for children with specific developmental needs, such as autism, ADHD, and sensory processing disorders. These activities can help improve language skills, chewing and swallowing abilities, and overall enjoyment of mealtimes.

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