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Food Chaining

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What is Food Chaining?

Food chaining is a way to help children enjoy eating and expand their food choices.

How do I use food chaining to expand my child’s food choices?

The idea is simple: start with foods your child likes, and change that food’s shape, colour or texture. Over time, this helps children adjust to small differences in food, so they will be able to accept more and more food choices. It’s important to do this gradually, for example:

  • Slowly introduce different textures ( from mushy to more solid);
  • Slowly change the flavor (from sweet to salty );
  • Slowly change the shape (from strips to cubes).

Food chaining in action

For meals and snacks:

  • Include small portions of new foods along with foods your child already accepts.
  • Offer foods in different shapes (for example, animal crackers and nuggets) and cut in different ways (apple ‘matchsticks’, round fries).
  • Offer a combination of textures, colours, tastes and temperatures (for example: spicy chicken nuggets dipped in lumpy hummus or crunchy rye crackers dipped in smooth peanut butter).

Chicken nuggets


  • Animal shapes
  • Chicken fingers

Chicken meatballs


  • Beef meatballs
  • Veal meatballs

Grilled chicken


  • Grilled beef
  • Grilled fish

Other meat progressions:

Beef meatballs... Chicken meatballs... Turkey meatballs... Fish meatballs...

‘Progressing’ through food chaining

Here are some examples of food chaining progressions you can explore.


Salty... Bland... Tart... Spicy... Sweet...


Smooth... Lumpy... Chewy... Crunchy... Crispy... Hard... Mixed...


CHEO Occupational Therapy 613-737-7600 extension 2702 Monday-Friday 8:00am-4:00pm  

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