Food texture preferences in early childhood: Insights from 3–6 years old children and parents

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Rejection of specific food textures in young children can be a significant barrier to establishing healthy eating habits. However, the literature on texture preferences in children under seven is sparse, partially due to a lack of suitable test tools for this age range. This study aims to investigate texture preferences in 3 to 6-year-old children and their parents and identify factors that could influence children's preferences. Children (n = 235) completed a forced-choice questionnaire based on pictographic drawings of 14 pairs of foods differing in hardness (hard versus soft) or particle content (with-particle versus no-particle). Parents completed the same questionnaire and provided information on their feeding practices and children's eating behaviors. To assess the questionnaire's validity, children performed a paired preference test using actual food stimuli corresponding to 6 food pairs in the questionnaire. Results showed that children preferred foods without particles, and such preference was associated with food neophobia. Children did not show distinct preferences for foods differing in hardness, but older children preferred soft foods more than younger children. Texture preferences significantly differed between parents and children, with a low concordance between parent–child dyads (49–55 %). Parental restrictive feeding was associated with children's rejection of particles in foods, whereas children's experience with different textures was associated with preferences for foods containing particles. Moreover, the questionnaire showed agreement with children's preferences measured using actual foods, and the validity increased with age. This study demonstrated that young children's texture preferences follow developmental trends and depend on the eating environment.

Original languageEnglish
Article number105063
JournalFood Quality and Preference
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 The Author(s)

    Research areas

  • Child development, Children, Food neophobia, Food texture, Parent-child concordance, Preference

ID: 380202455