Did you know, that my grandson, Joshy, was the inspiration for my book, Baby Bites: Transforming a Picky Eater into a Healthy Eater? He regularly ate only a few foods, while refusing to eat most foods. In fact, he wouldn’t even touch foods he’d predetermined to be “yucky.” He was such a picky eater that it had begun to affect his health.
Despite Julie-ann and David’s best efforts, food battles were the norm. They tried every parenting trick and were at a loss what to do next. If you have a picky eater, you know firsthand how frustrating it can be to get her to eat one nutritious tidbit.
On the other hand, my granddaughter Nicole, loves whole foods. Nicole just turned two and mealtimes are always an adventure for her. Instinctively she uses all her senses during mealtimes. She regularly bypasses the spoon and picks up food in her hands, feeling its texture before taking a bite.
The first time a sweet potato is offered to Nicole, she gives in to her curiosity. Picking up and examining a piece of the orange tuber, she squishes it between her fingers. Her joy is evident as she presses the warm sweet potato through her fingers and then plops it onto her plate.
Joshy is on pictured on the right and Nicole on the left.
Nicole doesn’t immediately taste it, but continues in her discovery of the attributes of the sweet potato. She then turns her attention to the rest of her meal. Eventually, she comes back to the sweet potato and without prompting, a small sample finds its way into her mouth. Nicole, naturally uses all her senses in her discovery of various foods.
Parents expect taste alone should be enough when introducing new foods to their child. Here’s some food for thought: employ all the senses when introducing healthful foods to any child, especially a picky eater. Learning to eat nutritious foods is a process, in which all the senses must be engaged. This is called multi-sensory learning.
Most picky eaters need to be taught how to incorporate multi-sensory learning into their mealtimes. It doesn’t matter if you’re four or forty, multi-sensory learning works. Once a picky eater’s senses are engaged, she’ll be on the road to healthy eating. Auditory learning is essential and discussing the meal is vital. Keep the conversation about the food positive. “What color is broccoli? Green food is yummy! Is the broccoli smooth or rough?” What does is smell like? Surprisingly, the last sense to incorporate is taste.
To avoid food battles, make mealtime a learning experience. Whenever possible engage your child’s senses with food preparation. Children are like sponges as they soak up everything around them. Encourage your picky eater to appreciate once-refused foods, which have unique colors, textures, smells, and tastes. Each food is different and different is fun.
Learning to appreciate new foods should always be a multi-sensory experience. Yes, it’s necessary for your child to pick up his food in order to learn about its characteristics. So, get the handy wipes ready!
Multi-sensory learning is the foundation of the Baby Bite Steps. In fact, in about a week, after the implementation of the Baby Bite Steps, even the most food-resistant child will pick up and eat a formerly refused food.