Food Chaining is an awesome feeding strategy that works to expand a child’s diet by offering foods similar in flavor, texture and appearance to his or her preferred foods. When food chaining, we work with a child’s flavor and texture preferences and chain foods together to work toward goal foods. By offering foods only slightly different from a most favorite food (I suggest changing only one property at a time), mealtime is less intimidating and more successful. I suggest offering only one “chained food” with each meal alongside a “safe” food.
Take a peek at Food Chaining in action:
- Child enjoys yogurt: Serve greek yogurt in a bowl vs. a container, add preferred topping (sprinkles), preferred food as topping (freeze-dried berries), then try new food as topping (fresh blueberries).
- Child prefers only dry crunchy foods: We offer veggie straws in green and orange, freeze-dried green edamame, freeze-dried strawberries, freeze-dried raspberries, and freeze-dried blueberries.
- Child prefers freeze-dried berries and any baked goods: We offer freeze-dried berries, blueberry muffins, fresh blueberries cut into small pieces, then whole fresh berries.
- Kiddo enjoys veggie straws and guacamole: Offer veggie straws with guac for dipping, green guac with carrots to “use as a spoon” (or eat if he’s feeling confident), avocado in cubes, and avocado slices.
- Child enjoys peanut butter and pretzels: Try peanut better with pretzels, rectangle peanut butter sandwich, open face peanut butter triangle, apple with peanut butter, celery with peanut butter, and honey roasted peanuts.
In our house Milton joins us at the table when we’re offering a new “chained food”. Milton relieves some of the anxiety around mealtime, and gives my little ones someone else to feed while they’re warming up to something new.
Mealtime can be so much fun if get your creative juices flowing, work with your child’s preferences and interests, stay positive and have fun!
Give it a try. I’d love to hear how it goes!
-Catherine Callahan, MS, CCC-SLP, CLC