The biggest frustration for parents of fussy eaters is that their child will not try new foods. Research has shown time and time again that it is the sensory properties of a food that stops fussy eaters in their tracks. They don’t like the feel of a food, the look of it or how it smells. As parents, we often ask our fussy eater to jump right in and eat or taste a new food before they have had a chance to really understand it's sensory properties.
Take a few steps back and prompt your child to explore the food visually, then through touch and then through smell. In other words, by using all the senses we can begin to “desensitise” our child to the sensory overwhelm that can come from learning to like a new food. This usually takes time, but with patience and some clever Food Play ideas (cue The Veggie Explorer food play kit), you can help your child to become a curious little foodie. In fact, we encourage parents to start adopting this terminology – instead of saying “you are such a fussy eater!” – rather say, "...you are such a curious little foodie! you love exploring your food with all your senses!”
Once your fussy eater becomes more familiar with the sensory properties of the new food, they will be more willing to try it on their own terms.
Food Play helps to engage your child in a fun and interactive way to make them curious about the food that they are learning to like – without the pressure to eat it. Children are naturally curious and learn best by playing and exploring, so why should food be any different?