My son has texture issues. He only likes creamy and crispy. This means he refuses about 85% of my home cooked meals. Instead of getting upset and using pressure tactics to force him to eat, we work on food sensory and exploration activities away from the table. I refuse to accept him as a picky child. Instead, I accept his eating habits as a learning opportunity.
He was not born reciting the alphabet. After all, it takes practice to learn the fundamentals of our language. Healthy eating behaviors requires the same education. Healthy eating takes time, patience and perseverance. He likes my food, he just does not know it yet. He needs help learning to accept different textures, flavors and even shapes of food and this is just one way we do it. This activity works because it increases the familiarity of textures away from the dinner table without the pressure to eat it.
Vegetable taste testing activities help my son accept textures within the same food. For a successful activity, I selected carrots because he typically accepts them but don’t let me fool you- he has been known to pick them out of my Chicken and Rice recipe. Most children will accept a food one day and refuse it the next because it is normal behavior.
My goal here is to expose my son to different textures of a carrot- creamy, creamy with lumps, finely diced, chunky diced, coined and thin sticks. If I had carrot juice, I would add it to the mix. The idea is to offer variety. But let me clarify- variety does not have to be different produce- carrots, broccoli, red peppers. Variety can be preparing the same food in different shapes, textures and flavors.
1. A vegetable or fruit your child normally accepts at mealtimes prepared multiple ways.
2. Offer lightly steamed carrot coins, sticks, chunky diced, finely diced, mashed with chunks and smooth mashed.
3.Chalk board or paper with chalk or crayons.
1. Ask your child to taste test or just touch each food item in the order of their choice. If a child is very sensitive to the texture of the food, exploring with their fingers might be a better start. They can touch it. Ask them to smell it. Let them put it down without a taste- it is ok.
2. Talk about the smell, color, size, shape and texture.
3. Allow them to draw a picture for their favorite shapes and textures. My children drew smiley faces.
4. Allow them to draw a picture for the shapes and textures they need to learn more about (do no use the words dislike). My son drew a bird.