Sensory-friendly proteins for kids


Children on the spectrum experience many barriers to eating a nutritious diet. Sensory issues that limit the variety of foods a child is willing to eat is one that parents find most frustrating.

Parents come to me concerned that their child is not getting the nutrition they need. Protein is often at the top of that list. Protein is difficult to replicate in vitamin form and children with sensory food aversions tend to struggle with protein textures.

These soft protein and crunchy protein ideas can help optimize your child’s nutrition while you work to expand their sensory profile.

Soft food protein sources.jpg
Soft food protein sources.jpg

Soft food protein choices for kids with sensory food aversions

  • Tofu

  • Beans

  • Hot cereal (especially fortified with milk or a nutrition supplement)

  • Eggs

  • Yogurt

  • Nut butter

  • Milkshake or smoothie

  • Ground meat

  • Fish

  • Smoothie

  • Lentils

  • Plant-based protein pasta

  • Black bean soup

  • Well mixed salmon or tuna salad

  • Egg salad

  • Quesadilla

  • Hummus


Crunchy food protein choices for kids with sensory food aversions

  • Apple sandwiches with crunchy nut butter

  • Sandwich with crunchy lettuce and apple slices

  • Celery with nut butter or cream cheese

  • Roasted chickpeas

  • Nuts

  • Seeds

  • Crispy salami chips

  • Tuna with veggie chunks and crackers

  • Trail mix

  • Roasted edamame

  • Meat or fish jerky

  • Deli roll ups in crunchy lettuce

  • Hard shelled taco

  • Baked cheese crisp

  • Baked macaroni bites made in mini muffin tin (with added meat, cheese)

  • Crispy quinoa coated chicken nuggets

  • Small portion of yogurt or milk with a lot of granola

  • Crunchy pickles wrapped in a slice of deli meat

Sensory-Friendly Snacks for Kids

Now that we’ve got protein squared away, it’s time for snacks. Check out the Sensory Snack Guides for tons of sensory-friendly snack ideas for kids with autism, SPD, and texture preferences.

The Sensory Snack Guide for picky eaters have kid-approved snacks for the 8 most common sensory food and texture preferences seen in kids with autism and SPD:

  • crunchy snacks

  • soft snacks

  • smooth snacks

  • salty snacks

  • sweet snacks

  • warm snacks

  • cold snacks

  • high sensory snacks (big texture or flavor for sensory seekers)


Due to sensory processing issues, some children with autism don’t consume many protein foods.


Review your child’s current food list to determine if he/she prefers soft, smooth, or crunchy foods. Use the list of sensory-friendly proteins above to select new proteins to incorporate into the autism meal plan.

* Be sure to grab my FREE Picky Eating Guide if you don’t have it already *

You might also enjoy