Offer Sampling Events for Toddlers, Parents will Love You! 

August 16, 2016

Do you want to win over parents of small children and keep them coming back to your store? We've got some ideas for a simple toddler tasting program here!

If you have spent any time around a toddler, you’ve probably witnessed the ups and downs of what they like and don’t like and know their preferences can turn on a dime. And this can be an important factor to consider when it comes to food with these little ones. 

We’ve seen studies that inform us on how small children develop their food interests based on everything from parental influence to what mama was eating while she was pregnant. But here’s new research with insight that offers opportunity for retailers, retail dietitians, and parents to join forces in positively influencing what our next generation eats. 

The study suggests that toddlers pick up on social cues that shape their opinions of foods. Take for example, a child witnesses someone showing dislike for a food, they expect all other reactions in this social setting to be the same, in return potentially sabotaging their introduction to that food. In other words, if my friend hates broccoli, so will his friends, and I might too. 

The study involved showing toddlers scenes with actors agreeing or disagreeing on foods, and the results revealed that the children expected agreement on tastes and were confused when the opposite happened. (See study here)

The good news is that if a child watches someone enjoy a food, then expects others to agree, he/she could pick up on that cue themselves approaching the same food with an openness to liking the taste. 

How can supermarkets get involved? By hosting events designed to expose toddlers to a variety of foods in a social setting. Here’s how it can work.

Set up a food sampling event in your store on a weekday morning as to attract stay at home moms/dads that are more than likely ready to jump on a free opportunity to get out of the house and engage in activities with other parents and children. Get creative with your design of this event, but the focus should be on fostering positive influencers. For example, make a game out of parents trying guacamole first, while the children watch.

Provide colorful, creative charts for every child that are designed to keep track of every new food they try, and them let them earn stickers. This will encourage moms/dads to come back in the store to earn a sticker on their child's card every time they try and new food. It's also a reward system set in place, created and managed for free without busy moms or dads having to do much at all!

Get your store RD involved with nutritional guidance for parents, but also exposing parents to meals and snacks they may not have thought of would work for their child. Moms and dads will always appreciate ideas that make feeding their children easy and healthy.