The mouth has many sensory receptors including taste, proprioceptors and touch or texture receptors. For some children, providing a variety of foods or oral stimuli can assist with the organization of sensory information as well as the development of motor skills.
We all use chewing, sucking and crunching to calm, organize and alert ourselves. Allowing children to drink with a straw out of a sports bottle provides valuable oral stimulation. Drinking pudding, yogurt or thick shakes through a straw requires hard sucking that is helpful for many children. Blowing and sucking activities can help with oral muscle control, eye tracking skills and coordination.
The flavors and textures of foods affect children’s ability to calm, organize and alert themselves. Sweet things have a calming affect. Chewing (gum, bagel) is organizing and crunching (pretzels, carrot sticks) is alerting.