Avoid Picky Eating with Multi-Sensory LearningBy Nonna Joann • Jan 13th, 2009 • Category: Fun in Nonna's Kitchen
You can teach your picky eater to love whole foods!
An infant’s first food is milk. Between six and twelve months, solid food is introduced. Of course, this food has been mashed, strained, and pulverized in order to make it easier for baby to eat. Around the time baby is turning two, she should be enjoying most of the food which the family eats. Unfortunately, this doesn’t always happen.
In fact, we’re seeing more finicky eaters than we ever have in the past. A recent study from the American Dietetic Association found that 49 percent of mothers say their young children are picky eaters. The standard advice for parents of children who refuse to eat nutritious foods is to help them cope with, deal with, or please a picky child. What’s wrong with this picture? How did we get here?
Ben is kneading dough for Papa’s Pizza—a multi-sensory experience.
We’ve forgotten that the parents’ job is to teach children how to do everything. You teach your child to walk and talk. You teach your children safety rules: don’t play in the street, look both ways before crossing. You teach your children manners, to say “please” and “thank you.” You teach your children to be kind and to forgive others. Why do we think we don’t have to teach a child to eat whole foods?
Children learn, using ALL their senses. Children in the same family often differ in ways they learn best. One child may be able to remember the alphabet through singing (talking and listening). Another child may grasp letters through writing with a pencil or chalk (seeing and touching). Of course, employing various methods helps to strengthen the learning process.
Teachers use different techniques so each child may learn in the way that’s the most natural to her. The most common teaching procedures include: visual (looking), auditory (listening), and tactile (touching). These three methods are further defined as seven sensory techniques: print (reading/visual input), aural (listening), interactive (talking), visual (seeing), tactile (touching), kinesthetic (moving), and olfactory (smelling and tasting/gustatory).
Why are we surprised that learning to appreciate whole foods can be taught? Olfactory combines the two senses of smelling and tasting. Interestingly, 70 to 75 percent of what we perceive as taste actually comes from our sense of smell. Taste buds allow us to perceive only bitter, salty, sweet, and sour flavors. It’s the odor molecules from food that give us most of our taste sensation. Odor molecules from food in your mouth travel through the passage between your nose and mouth to olfactory receptor cells at the top of your nasal cavity. That’s why when we have a stuffed nose, food tastes flat.
When all seven sensory techniques are employed during the learning process, a child is more likely to learn. This is called multi-sensory learning. Parents tend to forget the other methods of learning, and expect taste alone should be enough when introducing new foods to their child. When children, especially picky eaters, are included in mealtime preparations, multi-sensory experiences naturally occur.
Once picky eaters incorporate ALL their senses in a positive environment, learning to enjoy whole nutritious foods isn’t so difficult after all. When incorporating all the senses during meals, the transformation to a healthy eater moves along very quickly. In about seven days with the Baby Bite steps, a picky eater will be tasting new foods…on his own!
For Papa’s Pizza recipe, Click Here.
Click Here for more about Multi-Sensory Learning.
Buy the book Baby Bites: Transforming a Picky Eater into a Healthy Eater, Click Here.