Got a fussy eater or simply trying to get your kids to eat some new foods? I explain why “Exposure” is so important and share my 5 step plan to increase your child’s exposure to foods.
I did a Q&A on my Instagram recently and unsurprisingly a lot of the questions were centred around kids and food and fussy eating. Although the individual circumstances of the questions were different, my answer was nearly all the same… exposure!
How Do I Get My Child To Eat More Veggies… Exposure!
How Do I Get My Child To Try New Foods… Exposure!
How Do I Get My Child To Eat Foods With Sauce… Exposure!
So you get the picture, exposure is so important when it comes to improving a child’s diet or food intake. But how exactly does it work in practice?
Here’s my 5 Step Plan To Increase Your Child’s Exposure To Foods
1. Let Them See You Eat
This may seem a bit obvious but it really is so important. The first time a child sees a new food should not be when it’s on their plate.
Encourage their visual exposure to food as much as possible – point it out in supermarkets and get them to put it into the trolley, show them the food being cooked, have it in bowls on the table and let them see you eat it.
These may seem small and insignificant steps but they will do a lot to help increase your child’s initial visual exposure to new foods.
2. Add It To Their Plate
Once your child has become visually more familiar with a food you can start to introduce it to their plate. Divided or compartment plates are idea for this as it allows you to add a new food to their plate without it encroaching on their usual food.
It’s likely that the new food will be rejected several times but keeping adding it to the plate. This is all great progress in exposure.
3. Let Them Play With Their Food
We were always told as kids not to play with their food but it turns out that playing with your food is actually a fundamental part of increasing familiarity.
As adults the vast majority of food that we eat is familiar to us. Before we even put it on our fork we know how it tastes, how the texture will feel in our mouth and the smell is recognisable. But remember that for a young child, a lot of food that we put in front of them won’t be so familiar and so we need to allow them the time and opportunity to develop that familiarity.
One great way to do this is to allow them to play with their food. Let them touch it, squish it in their fingers. Get them to describe to you how it feels, how it smells.
4. Teeny Tiny Tastes
The next step in exposure is actually tasting the food. Start with TTT – Teeny Tiny Tastes. Ask your child to take just a very small bite of the food. Let them know that if they don’t like it then they don’t have to eat anymore.
Give it a few days before re-introducing that food again. Go back to the previous steps again if your child is struggling to even try a small bite.
5. Be Consistent & Persistent
This is the step where many of us (myself included!) will stumble. We need to be consistent and persistent in our approach to feeding kids.
There’s no quick fix when it comes to fussy eating. It takes a bit of work every day but I promise you will see results!
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