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Kitchen Tools to Support Oral Motor Skill Development

There are many kitchen tools we love and use in therapy. The best part is that they are generally everyday tools that you already have in your own kitchens, and they transform the way kids can engage in food. And we aren’t talking about just knives and forks.

When it comes to oral motor skills, sometimes the food it’s just too difficult to chew, or it requires too much oral motor control for kids to feel safe. Adapting the food before it goes to a child’s lips can often increase their volume and willingness to chew and swallow a food that otherwise may have been avoided.

We recommend all children who struggle with chewing and swallowing work with a professional to understand what foods are most appropriate and safe for that child’s skills. Our ideas here are to help you rethink some tools you may already have in your cupboard and not specific recommendations for your child or client’s needs.

Here are some of our favorite kitchen tools for building Oral Motor Skills

Silicon straws

This is new to our list as they are more recently available in many stores. We love that they are wide enough to work on suction skills for oral motor and wide enough to fit even out of the ordinary things like Jello, pudding, and applesauce, which can be a great oral challenge for kids when they are ready. Also, these straws are a great tool for getting tongue movement when your child moves it around their own mouth, in addition to giving kids who are constantly wanting to chew on objects a great kitchen-based chewing alternative.

Mini Chopper

We love choppers! Mini ones, big ones, doesn’t matter we love them – here’s why. Pre-chopping the food is sometimes the just right step a child with oral motor difficulties needs to either taste for the first time or eat more volume of that somewhat preferred food. Chewing is hard work for some kids, and chopping first does the work for them. You can initially chop the food well and then work towards less chopping and letting them take on more work. Also, it’s great visual feedback to watch those metal “teeth” chop up the food.

Kid-safe toothpicks/ Small cocktail forks

Oral motor placement in the correct area (on the child’s back molars) can be difficult without good tongue movement and control. Little toothpicks and cocktail forks can allow kids to place the food on their back molars all by themselves, which helps them chew more efficiently. And these, which you can get on Amazon, are great for the imagination as well.

Make sure to keep an eye out for Part 2 next month, where we talk about the Sensory reasons why we love these kitchen utensils!


For more ideas, check out our Membership Options.

Understanding Picky Eaters and Problem Feeders

Are all children picky?

Many parents have been told by well-meaning professionals that they do not need to be worried about their child’s eating habits. However, it is not true that all children are picky.  Nor is it true that they will all outgrow it. Keep reading to learn more about what we know about Picky Eaters.

Parent/Caregiver Workshop

This 2-hour Workshop will teach Parents and Caregivers about the foundational skills needed for eating. Practical Strategies are discussed so Parents and Caregivers can help their children learn to have a lifelong healthy relationship with food. This Workshop will be addressing common feeding issues often seen in young children, to struggles that “picky eaters” may have, and the challenges of the “problem feeder”.

Why we don’t use the ARFID diagnosis

ARFID is a diagnosis that the American Psychiatric Association created in 2013 to replace the old diagnosis referred to as Feeding Disorder of Infancy and Early Childhood. Read more about the challenges with this new diagnosis and what diagnosis we prefer instead.

Why You May See Increased Feeding Challenges During Times of Stress or Change

When children and their families are undergoing major changes in their lives, whether this is related to stress or a positive life event, any child’s eating or feeding can be easily disrupted. Read about the 4 main issues and learn strategies to get your family back on track

Setting Your Family Up for Success

Preventing Picky Eating: Strategies to help your family get back on track

This quick article outlines our first three recommendations for almost any family who comes in for a feeding assessment. Watch how these three strategies start to shift mealtimes at your home.

Great advice when introducing those first baby foods to your little one!

We found some great advice in the baby food aisle at the grocery store!

Tips for Picky Eaters and Problem Feeders

Managing Stressful Times with a Picky Eater or Problem Feeder

Learn how stress and adrenaline can wreak havoc with your child’s appetite and make mealtimes more challenging, as well as strategies to support your child and family.

Kitchen Tools to Support Oral Motor Skill Development

There are many kitchen tools we love and use in therapy. The best part is that they are generally everyday tools that you already have in your own kitchens, and they transform the way kids can engage in food. And we aren’t talking about just knives and forks.

Need New Ideas to Help Expose Your Child to New Foods?

A common concern parents share is that it can be hard to expose your child to new foods, especially if they aren’t able to eat meals at the same time with the family or if they are reluctant to even being in the same room with you if you are eating something different. Here are a few simple ideas that you can start incorporating tonight!

Supporting Your Child’s Posture for Meals (and Schoolwork)

Postural stability is an essential aspect of your child’s learning, whether they are learning how to eat, learning about new foods, or learning about math! It supports your child not only at mealtimes but also for online school and homework. Learn how to adapt your child’s chair to provide stability and watch meals, and schoolwork, get a little bit easier.

Planning for School Lunches

With a little bit of planning, you can help set your child up for success during meals and snacks at school.

Seasons and Holiday Tips

Pack a Little Protein into those Sweets this Valentine’s Day

Valentines Day is fast approaching and your children’s sweet tooths are starting to ache.  So instead of fighting with the sugar season, how about adding some protein, fruit, and veggies to those treats and feel a little better about what’s on the plate.

Valentine’s Day Strategies for Picky Eaters

Holidays can be tough on kids – keep reading to learn why and make a plan to make this holiday go a little more smoothly!

How are you celebrating St. Patrick’s Day?

Keep reading for some fun food ideas with a rainbow theme!

Fall Fun with Apples (and Pears!)

Check out this article with some great ideas to introduce your child to apples and pears.

Strategies for a Happier Halloween with your Picky Eater

Learn why holidays can be so difficult for your child, and help set them up for success!

Exploring Holiday Foods

The grocery store can be filled with all sorts of seasonal fruits and vegetables, as well as holiday-themed packaged foods. Choosing something unfamiliar can be a fun learning experience for the whole family! Check out this article for more ideas on how to use the novelty of the changing seasons to help your family learn about new foods!

Winter Fun in Food School!

Have you ever wondered what feeding therapy using the SOS Approach to Feeding looks like? Take a peek at some of our sessions this week.

Fun with Food

Exploring Holiday Foods

The holidays can provide great opportunities for kids to explore and learn about new foods. There are many fun play ideas that go around the various holidays, and lots of fun, seasonal foods to explore, too!

Fun Food Books to Explore with your Child

Sometimes, learning about new foods during a meal is just too hard, especially if everyone is stressed. Sometimes, even getting your child to the table for meals can be hard. One way around this is to start conversations around food, separate from mealtimes (without the pressure to eat or taste it).

Pull Up a Seat in the Garden

We want to talk about gardening as the therapeutic table we can set for our kids be it in the summer or even all year long.  Here are some helpful tips and ways to engage your kids even if you yourself are a novice gardener.

Quick Recipes with High Calories and Nutrition

Check out these fun, kid-friendly recipes for fudge and milkshakes (both with dairy-free options) that have some great nutrition and easy to consume calories!

Oatmeal Banana Cookies

These simple cookies come together very quickly and only require a few pantry staples – and use up those spotty bananas! This is a very kid-friendly recipe, so it is okay if the measurements aren’t exact. Make sure you try out the Food Scientist Tips at the bottom to personalize them!


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