Here is a quick tip, to teach your child to eat a new Food:
Firstly, think about the texture of a chicken nugget, and what makes chicken nuggets a safe food:
- Chicken Nuggets are;
- Crunchy & Dry on the outside
- Slightly Soft when chewing
- Yellow in colour
- Predictable in their shape, colour, smell and taste
If your child has sensory issues, they will find comfort in knowing that a Chicken Nugget is ALWAYS the SAME.
When teaching children to eat a new food, we need to respect their sensory issues and need for sameness. A successful strategy to help children to learn new foods is called ‘STRETCHING’ foods.
This means introducing a new food, that is similar to a chicken nugget.
What is another food that is similar to a chicken nugget??
A Chicken Tender!!
- When introducing a new ‘safe’ food, such as; a Chicken Tender, offer 1 x Chicken Tender with the chicken nuggets on the plate.
- To avoid meal time anxiety, do not replace the safe food (chicken nugget) with the new food (chicken tender). They should be offered together.
- When placing the Chicken Tender on the plate, have no expectations that your child will eat the Chicken Tender straight away. Initially, the Chicken Tender should sit on the plate for exposure.
- If your child is not ready to take a bite, you can ask your child to describe the colour, the shape, the feel in his/ her hands. You can even compare the Chicken Tender to the chicken nugget.
- Never ask your child to take a BITE!
- It is tempting to ask your child to ‘try’, or to tell them, it is ‘yummy’ – But resist the temptation at all cost.
- We want to create a safe meal time environment, with no pressure to eat or try new foods
- Once your child feel’s safe with the new food, they will take a bite on their own.
Think of chicken nuggets as a stepping stone to a Chicken Tender to a Chicken Schnitzel to a Chicken Breast. In time, we can improve the quality of the chicken in your child’s diet.
Stretching foods is a lovely way to build confidence in your child and lower stress and anxiety associated with trying new foods.
Learning to eat new food is like running a Marathon – it takes time and patience!
Melanie is a Dietitian at Youthrive, who can help support your little one to introduce new foods into their diet!
Please call Youthrive today to make an appointment with Melanie!