Sensory Personality – Winning The Fussy Eater Battle

The more I’ve spoken about fussy eaters on my Instastories recently, the more I’ve realized I’m not alone in my struggle to get my eldest child to eat a healthy, balanced diet. But the tide has started changing in our home and the single biggest change has been recognizing her sensory personality. 

What is sensory personality?

I learned all about sensory personality and how this affects weaning in babies when I listened to a talk presented by Meg Faure at The Baby Show & #MeetUp last weekend and I had an a-ha moment in the process.

All of this info can be found in Meg Faure and Kath Megaw’s book – Weaning Sense, so if you’re struggling with a fussy eater, I’d highly recommend it.

What makes us unique individuals is that each person filters sensory input to varying degrees. 

Since we all filter sensory input differently, this underlying process affects our personalities. 

The sensory personality can be divided into four different types, the social butterfly, the slow to warm up, the sensitive and the settled.

While listening to Meg’s talk, I was easily able to identify Ava as the sensitive type. When weaning her, I realize with hindsight, I made a lot of mistakes. She would gag for everything and as a result, I gave up and chose the path of least resistance. The result is that I now have an almost 9 year old who lives on bread, sugar, and meat. The only veggies she would eat are peas and corn and the only fruit, an apple. I have worried so much about the long-term impact this would have on her health but I had no idea how to fix it.

Recognizing her sensory personality was the first step in the right direction. 

I easily recognized almost all the signs of the sensitive baby and also elements of the slow to warm up baby in her and so this past week, armed with this new insight, I started the process of reintroducing or re-weaning her.

It’s been surprisingly easier than I thought it would be. Firstly I think because I can now understand her and her sensory personality better, so I can recognize her genuine fear over eating something new, something she has openly expressed with each new introduction in the past week and secondly, because now that’s she’s older, I know her currency so I can encourage certain behaviors in her with better results.

 What We’ve Added This Week

My child has astounded me. This week, she has, with some resistance initially and then with growing enthusiasm, eaten cucumber, tomatoes, strawberries, carrots, butternut, beetroot, and asparagus. 

All of these foods she has absolutely flat out refused to eat in the past and when I’ve tried to force her, she’s gagged and vomited and thrown such fits that I land up screaming and going batshit crazy. I’ve tried in the past, even blending the veggies and trying to hide them, but she’s smart and she quickly picks up on what I’ve done and it’s always been a fail.

The Butternut Example

Was a classic example, she walked into the kitchen and saw me with a butternut and immediately started resisting, telling me she wasn’t going to eat that and she’d rather starve. Instead of losing my shit, I told her that she would need to eat just two pieces, which she begrudgingly agreed to do. Well, guess what, after her expressing how afraid she was to eat it, and me remaining calm, she tasted a piece and informed us it was delicious. And now she eats it happily. 

My Tips For Re-Weaning

So many people have asked for more info on how we’re doing it and it’s a work in progress, but here’s what I’ve learned so far:

  • Read Weaning Sense so you can understand your child’s sensory personality better.
  • Go slowly – go at your child’s pace, Ava has been receptive so we’ve speeded things up a little.
  • Don’t force them to eat everything on their plate, but do encourage them to try everything.
  • Teaching Ava to start with her veggies and finish with her protein, which is how I eat, has helped.
  • Make dipping sauces (yogurt and dill worked really well for Ava)
  • Negotiate on the things they don’t like, for example, you don’t have to eat ALL the asparagus, but you do have to eat one piece on your plate.
  • If it’s a strong flavor item, then encourage them to have it with a piece of meat or something they like on the fork.

What I’ve Noticed So Far

One of the most astounding things I’ve noticed after just a week of encouraging this way of eating is that Ava’s stomach looks far less bloated, obviously with the drastic reduction in high carb foods and real, fresh, homemade meals as opposed to processed crap, has already started to impact on her body. 

I am so proud of her efforts!

I know we are a long way from winning but we are making progress daily and this makes me so happy. 

Do you have a fussy eater? How are you overcoming the battle? 

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  • Reply Ailsa Porter

    Wow, we learn something new every day. I am like Ava. I hate most vegetables (because they are revolting to me) and I definitely do not like trying things.

    October 7, 2018 at 3:04 pm
  • Reply Kim van Vuuren

    IvI’ been waiting for this post all week!
    I have a fussy four year old and when I saw you were advocating MegsM book I was curious to see if it would really work (there are things iveI read in the past regarding baby routine etc that failed miserably, hence my scepticism).
    But seeing your success has made me eat my words and want to get Meg’s book and give it a bash!
    Thank you for this!

    October 7, 2018 at 4:08 pm
  • Reply Melissa Javan

    This is so interesting and helpful. Thank you for sharing

    October 7, 2018 at 5:32 pm
  • Reply Kara

    I’m so glad you seem to be having success! I totally “misdiagnosed” my baby when I weaned her at 5 months. I thought she was a social butterfly but she’s definitely turned out to be a slow to warm up. Because of this, she never took well to solids and at 18months I’m really struggling! She changed a lot and I think it was only when I really started exposing her to new situations and havinmg her around strangers more did I truly learn to recognize her sensory personality. I’m going to attempt to re-wean her too. Thank you for the inspiration to take this step!

    October 8, 2018 at 1:16 pm
  • Reply MrsFF

    Just by reading this I can see some similarities with my daughter! And I’m going to use some of these tips. I currently don’t force her but I do ask that she at least tries. And I would have to do-opt daddy to help too as I’ve picked up if he likes something she ends up agreeing to try it too

    Thankfully at least mine likes lots of fruit but the veggies is another story

    October 8, 2018 at 6:57 pm
  • Reply whimsy

    How can we as adults get ourselves to eat vegetables? I grew up with starch, sugar and meat. I struggle to stomach vegetables, but I know I need to change this, but how?

    October 8, 2018 at 9:54 pm
  • Reply Megan Keith

    I’ve been following your re-weaning journey of Instagram and I’ve been fascinated by it! I definitely want to get my hands on the book, so I can learn more about my boys sensory personality and win the food battle. Thanks for sharing! Megan xx

    October 11, 2018 at 5:49 pm
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