Trying New Food
Sometimes it’s not easy to get children to try new food, especially for children with special educational needs. Some children are sensitive to certain kinds of texture and smell, or items that are new to them. If getting your child to try new food is a challenge that you are facing, here are seven steps that may help your children get familiarised with the new food gradually. (Orange is used as an example below):
- Tolerate orange on their plates - the main objective in this step is just to keep the orange in sight. Your child is not expected to touch or interact with the orange at this stage.
- Touch, feel, and manipulate the orange without the expectation of consuming it. An example of this includes peeling, squishing or cutting an orange.
- Kiss the orange goodbye before throwing away - when your child has got used to the existence of the orange, then we can slowly ask them to touch it with their lips just one touch and then put it away. It may help to have a small waste bucket nearby for spitting the food out into without reprimand by others. Remember not to over-do it. 1 or 2 trials in a meal perhaps or it may backfire.
- Lick the orange before throwing it away - this step moves from experiencing the texture of the orange to exploring its taste.
- Take a bite of the orange before throwing it away - at this stage, your child does not need to swallow it. It is ok for them to spit it out.
- Chew on the orange before throwing it away - still, they don’t need to swallow it at this stage. It is ok for them to spit it out.
- Swallow a small bite of the orange.
- If your child is able to complete a step three times consecutively, they can then move on to the next step. However, if they struggling with a step for a long time, they may need to go back to the previous step and prolong the trials.
- To encourage your child to move on to the next step, it is useful that you demonstrate it first before taking turns with your child. For example, “My turn to kiss the orange…bye orange! Now it is your turn!”
- On top of all these steps, you can always take this opportunity to enrich your child’s language by narrating their tasting experience, like “the orange is juicy” or “it is sweet” etc.