Food Chaining is a child-friendly treatment approach that slowly introduces unfamiliar foods while branching off the child’s current diet. Food chaining expands the child’s diet and increase the child’s comfort level with all the different food groups and textures.
During this process, your child’s SLP introduces new foods with familiar taste and textures based on foods, textures and types that your child is comfortable with. These similarities are used to create the “food chains” which link the foods a child has already accepted and the foods we want the child to eat.
Flavor mapping involves analyzing the child’s flavor preferences and matching it with patterns of your child’s preferred flavor profile. If you are trying to get your child to eat mashed potatoes, starting off with potato chips to make an eventual transition into the goal food.
Texture mapping involves analyzing the texture within a child’s diet and slowly introducing foods with similar textures. If you want your child to eat carrots give them a veggie straw because they have a similar crunchy texture. Another food chaining technique you might see is using transitional foods. Transitional foods occur when using the child’s favorite foods in between bites of new food to encourage the child to eat while easing into the transition of the new food. If your child’s goal food is strawberries and their favorite food is yogurt, give them yogurt in between feeding them strawberries so they can transition into the goal food.
You can practice introducing new foods at home as well. Promoting targeted foods at the dinner table, during playtime snack and even at restaurants will allow your child to get more comfortable with new foods but make sure you don’t try to force them. We can make food chaining by planning themes for meals. We can break down the themes into colors, textures, food groups, and more! This makes it easy to practice food chaining at home: you can make a rainbow of different foods to create an activity to collect flavors from different food groups to widen your child’s palate!