The category of crunchy foods includes a lot of variation in texture!
Some crunchy foods are dissolvable and don’t take a lot of effort to chew like graham crackers, Pirate’s Booty, Cheerios, Nilla Wafers, and Ritz crackers. After an initial crunch, these foods turn to mush in your mouth and can easily be swallowed without more chewing. These foods are a great introduction to crunching for toddlers or any child working towards a rotary (circular) chewing pattern.
Other crunchy foods like harder veggie chips (pictured above), nuts and raw veggies like celery and carrot sticks are on the other end of the oral motor spectrum. They crunch when you bite them and they take a lot more chewing/crunching to prepare them to be swallowed. Other kinds of chips, crackers, cookies and fruits and veggies fall somewhere in between. It’s important to know what kind of crunchy foods your child can manage and work from there. If you are working on feeding and swallowing skills with a speech language pathologist or occupational therapist, that’s great! They can help decide when it’s time to advance to more difficult textures.
How much we like crunchy foods depends a lot on our sensory system. Often children with under-responsive sensory systems really like crunchy foods because they get a lot of feedback from the crunch whereas kids with over-responsive sensory systems can find the crunch too intense of a sensation.
If you haven’t guessed it, this week’s posts will be about crunchy foods, fun ways to explore their crunch, play with them and eat them.
So stay tuned and happy food play!