Background Sleep and feeding difficulties are two common disorders in early childhood. It has been shown that feeding difficulties are more common among children with sleep disorders and vice versa. Since a child's characteristics play a substantial role in these two conditions, we aimed to investigate the sensory profile of infants and toddlers with behavioral insomnia (BI) or feeding disorders (FDs) in comparison with healthy age-matched controls. Methods Children aged 7–36 months with BI or FD were recruited from the sleep and feeding disorders clinics. Healthy controls were recruited from well-baby clinics. Parents completed a questionnaire which included demographics and socioeconomic status, as well as a sensory profile evaluation using the Infant/Toddler Sensory Profile (ITSP). Results Twenty-five children with BI, 28 with FDs and 32 controls were recruited. Oral processing scores were significantly lower in both BI and FD groups vs the controls (p = 0.015 and 0.001, respectively). Auditory processing scores were lower in the FD group vs the controls (p = 0.028). The scores of three out of the four ITSP sensory quadrants (Low Registration, Sensory Sensitivity, and Sensation Avoiding) were significantly lower in the FD group vs the controls (p = 0.027, 0.025, and 0.001, respectively), and in one quadrant (Sensation Avoiding) in the BI group vs the controls (p = 0.037). Conclusions There were considerable differences in sensory processing, as reported by parents between children with BI and those with FDs compared to healthy controls, most often in the direction of the ‘hypersensitive’ profile. These differences may underlie the development and partially explain the coexistence of the two disorders. Sensory profile may be a target of intervention as part of the management of sleep and feeding disorders in early childhood.
- Sensory processing