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Stimulate your baby’s five senses during meal time

aurélie d'hulst — mar 19, 2019

It is with the help of his senses that a child discovers the world that surrounds him. And food is a part of it! It helps our little ones to appreciate the complexity of aromas and to choose healthy food from an early age. Cheers!

 

Eating healthy is first and foremost learning; and the Sapere Movement understands that very well. Based on the belief that teaching children about good food provides the essentials for a long-term balanced diet, the movement gives “taste courses” for little children. Sweden, Denmark, Switzerland, the Netherlands and France have already been convinced and give these classes in kindergartens or schools! The method is based on learning by using a child's senses… From taste to touch, they are the ones we need to learn to stimulate if we want our little ones to develop their nutritionnal intelligence (to know & eat what is good for them).

Here are our practical tips.

1. Taste

It is essential for your child to think outside the box and taste other things than the classic trio “sweet, salty and fat”. So, we add herbs — condensed of vitamins and minerals — to our veggie purées and we pimp our sauces with spices which are rich in antioxidants, such as cumin and oregano. With a light touch, as babies have more taste buds than adults. As mentioned on the website Néoplanète, babies have 10,000 taste buds at birth but this number drops to 5,000 in average for adults. So the taste will be much stronger for kids.

 

2. Smell

Smell is the second most important sense for your baby to learn how to eat a bit of everything. Stimulate him regularly by making him smell the freshness of a melon, the scent of a roasted chicken and the scent of Daddy’s coffee… Do not hesitate to sprinkle your yoghourts and compotes with cinnamon as early as 6 months old. Its odour has the ability to boost the nervous system functions.

And it is not the only link between the smell and the brain! The Norwegian researcher Trygg Engen dedicated his life to understand these links; he found out that smell strengthens the “nutritional memory”. It helps children remembering savours but also the positive feeling they associated with tastes. In other words, if your little one felt happy or empowered when he ate his very first spinach, he will be motivated to do it again.

 

3. Hearing

By stimulating the hearing of your little one, you will increase his eating pleasure. Add crunchy food in your dishes (a crunchy carrot, crunchy crackers…); encourage him to listen to the bubbling soup, the crackling onion in the pan… This will improve his hearing and his smell and therefore his taste.

 

4. Sight

Kids eat first and foremost with their eyes, just like us. That’s why it is a good idea to add coloured spices — such as cumin, curcuma or sweet paprika — in your culinary creations as from 6 months old. Another trick which always works: draw him a little man with veggies or fruits for example. A colourful dish is a more appetizing dish.

Do not hesitate to involve your kid in the preparation of the meal. He will be more inclined to accept what is in his plate if he saw the ingredients during each step of the preparation. Let him become your kitchen help, ask him to choose certain meats or grow your aromatic herbs and vegetables with him.

 

5. Touch

We were very often told: “Do not play with your food” … And yet it is important for our kiddo to get acquainted with food by using his touch. In the USA, children love tomato sauce but don’t like biting into a fresh tomato, only because they are not used to its raw texture. Have fun with your kid: let him gently touch the peel of a peach, palm a lemon…

And, bit by bit, add some texture to your dishes by making your purées less smooth and by including little pieces of vegetables in your sauces. This trick will help your kids to accept a larger range of food later on. You did it!