Sensory learning encourages children to eat fruit, vegetables and berries
Children are notoriously finicky when it comes to what they eat. And because eating habits are set early, often before a child’s second birthday according to the Feeding Infants and Toddlers Study (FITS), it’s important to introduce a variety of food including fruits, vegetables and whole grains EARLY. Doing so can help ensure that children adopt a healthy eating regimen that sticks with them as adults.
The University of Eastern Finland explored how the Sapere Method, sensory based learning, among 3-5 year old kindergarteners could affect their food choices. Findings published in Public Health Nutrition, showed that it’s possible to increase a child’s willingness to choose fruits, vegetables and berries. Children were observed in two groups. One group was encourage to look, smell, taste, touch and hear while the new food was introduced, in other words use all five senses to familiarize themselves with the food. When compared with children who were simply presented the foods, children under the Sapere method chose fruits, vegetables and berries more often from the snack buffet.
Children are wide eyed, always learning and eager to figure things out. Exposing them to the furry skin of a kiwi, prickliness of a pineapple or waxiness of a banana at a young age is engaging and fun. Despite the Amazon age where we can get anything at the touch of a button, if we’re not familiar with the wide variety of produce that’s out there, we’re less likely to choose it. If you have the opportunity to expose children through taste and learn activities, sampling, simple food prep or gardening, you’re increasing the number of senses they use to experience the food. All good ways to get them to eat them when you’re not around! Try our Festive Dessert Pizza for a fun recipe that children will enjoy, plus it can be easily modified to swap in different fruits!
Published September 1st, 2018