Predicting Successful Introduction of Novel Fruit to Preschool Children
Background: Few children eat sufficient fruits and vegetables despite their established health benefits. The feeding practices used by parents when introducing novel foods to their children, and their efficacy, require further investigation. Objective: We aimed to establish which feeding strategies parents commonly use when introducing a novel fruit to their preschool-aged children and assess the effectiveness of these feeding strategies on children’s willingness to try a novel fruit. Design Correlational design. Participants/setting Twenty-five parents and their children aged 2 to 4 years attended our laboratory and consumed a standardized lunch, including a novel fruit. Interactions between parent and child were recorded and coded. Statistical analyses performed Pearson’s correlations and multiple linear regression analyses. Results: The frequency with which children swallowed and enjoyed the novel fruit, and the frequency of taste exposures to the novel fruit during the meal, were positively correlated with parental use of physical prompting and rewarding/bargaining. Earlier introduction of solids was related to higher frequency of child acceptance behaviors. The child’s age at introduction of solids and the number of physical prompts displayed by parents significantly predicted the frequency of swallowing and enjoying the novel fruit. Age of introduction to solids and parental use of rewards/bargaining significantly pre- dicted the frequency of taste exposures. Conclusions: Prompting a child to eat and using rewards or bargains during a positive mealtime interaction can help to overcome barriers to novel fruit consumption. Early introduction of solids is also associated with greater willingness to consume a novel fruit.