Eating inedible objects (PICA) - The Play Doctors

Identify why the child is eating inedible items
Could it be:
 Attention seeking

 Seeking sensory stimulation


 Anxiety or stress relief


 Reaction to an under stimulation


 Getting out of doing something


 Behaviour associated to an underlying
impairment or condition.

Younger children explore the world around them by using their senses, this often means picking things up and putting them in their mouths. As time goes on you would expect this behaviour to change. However, in some instances children continue. This may also be due to an underlying impairment or condition. Be reassured by the picture, it happens to the best of us!


Strategies and Responses
 Respond quickly and use a consistent approach. Children may not know
exactly what is acceptable to eat or not. Teach the child when it is OK to put
things in your mouths for instance when sitting at the table at dinner time, but
not sitting at the table eating crayons.


 Use clear communication to identify the
object the child is eating is used for other
purposes i.e. ‘(child’s name) crayons are
for colouring, take it out of your mouth’.


 Provide safe sensory opportunities of a similar texture i.e. a carrot stick.


 Consider activities that allow the child to use their other senses using textures
to encourage exploration through hands such as fur, fabrics, hard, soft.


Distract the child by using different sounds, ask the child to participate in other
sensory games.


 Create an activity that allows the child to choose what is edible or inedible.


 Use distraction techniques


 Praise good behaviour


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18 Mar 2019


By Matthew Duester
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