Last Updated: 27 March 2015

Food jagging is when a child is effectively stuck on repeat on a food.  The jag can be caused by many things.  Due to these reasons, moving to something very different from their favourite is hard to do.  However, a food jag can be overcome through minor changes. Why should we encourage children off of a food jag?  Burn out!  If you ate only one thing everyday, you would get sick of it too.  For some fussy eaters a burn out can be really hard on them and the family as the repertoire of what is already limited foods decreases even further. Side note: I highly recommend you look into the root cause of your child’s food jags.  It can be a normal part of a developmental leap they are making (usually at about 18mths – 24mths and then again at 5yrs), a sensory processing issue, an oral motor concern or a hots of other medical reasons.

Seasonal Food Jagging by Play with Food

A strategy for you to try to overcome a food jag is to introduce different shapes, colours, textures and flavours of that food (in that order).  If you are after more information about overcoming food jags in general, you can sign up to my newsletter below and get free instant access to my 29 min tutorial and worksheet on overcoming a food jag.  What if the food your child is jagging on is seasonal food?  Some children may be prone to this at Christmas or Easter time where foods that aren’t usually around become available & hit the top of the preference list.   One example of this I have been made privvy to is a food jag for fruitless hot cross buns.  Hot cross buns appear in January in Australian supermarkets & leave our shelves shortly after Easter.

Here is my food jag strategy for fruitless hot cross buns:

Step One: Make your own version as close to the store bought version as possible.  Trial these to see if they are an acceptable substitution for your child. These two recipes are also getting much acclaim for their similarity to store-bought buns – Hot Cross Buns by One Handed Cooks and No Knead Hot Cross Buns by Erin Made This.

Step Two: Include the child in the understanding of how to make them – for example have them help with the rolling and piping the crosses onto the top.

Step Three: Have the child change the shape of the bun after it is cooked – use cookie cuttters to make shapes out of the bun before eating it.  It tastes the same when it is in a different shape, see?

Step Four: Make the buns into different shapes – number buns or other shapes – before cooking them. (I have number buns pictured below – note cooking time can vary depending on how small you make these new shapes).

Step Five: Change up some of the ingredients to make the textue slightly different – these tweaks can be very minor like increasing the wholemeal to plain flour ratio and changing the puree from apple to pear.  Otherwise for a larger textural shift, add some dried fruit – just like from the shops.

Step Six: Change the taste. I made the same recipe with less sugar, a touch of salt, pumpkin puree (instead of apple) and rosemary (instead of spices).   (Pictured below)

Seasonal Food Jagging | play with food

Seasonal Food Jag: 1) Homemade Hot Cross Bun; 2) Number Bun; 3) Pumpkin and Rosemary Bread

As these changes are implemented, continue to offer similar foods via your mealtime routines (eg. via the learning bowl) that I cover in the Happy Mealtimes eCourse module on fussy eating.  The more “new” foods that start climbing the hierarchy the more accepted the variations to the preferred food will be.

Remember these steps can only be taken at the pace your child is happy with.  Be clear about what is being offered to your child – yes tell them there is apple in their hot cross buns!

Hot cross buns by Play with Food

Have you ever found a seasonal food jag in your family?  What did you do?  


Easier Hot Cross Buns
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
A relatively easy hot cross bun recipe. It has the usual spice flavour without the dried fruit. You can start with a lower wholemeal : plain flour ratio than I have here depending on your child.
Recipe type: snack
Serves: 10 buns
  • Bun Dough
  • 45g Sugar
  • 7g Lowan Foods Instant Yeast (canister)
  • 1tbsp Cinnamon
  • 1tsp All Spice
  • 100g Plain Flour
  • 200g Wholemeal Flour
  • 1tsp Salt
  • 100ml Milk
  • 50g Butter
  • 1 Egg
  • 110g Jar of Apple Puree
    Cross Mixture
  • 40g Plain Flour
  • 20g Water
  • Drizzle of Oil (I used rice bran)
  1. Mix all dry ingredients for the bun dough in a bowl.
  2. In a microwave safe bowl, melt the butter for 20 seconds in the microwave. Then add the milk that has also been heated in the microwave for 30 seconds.
  3. Whisk in the egg to the milk mixture.
  4. Make a well in the dry ingredients and add the wet mixture while stirring. Once this is combined, add the apple puree and stir in well.
  5. Leave the dough for at least 30 minutes.
  6. While you are waiting, start preheating the oven to 220oC and line a baking tray with baking paper. Also, you can mix the ingredients for the cross mixture. Place the mixture into a little sandwich bag ready to "pipe" onto the buns.
  7. After 30 mins, tip your bun dough out onto a floured work surface. Knead the dough and add a bit more flour so that it isn't sticking to your hands too much.
  8. Tear off balls of dough and arrange them on the baking sheet at least 1cm apart on each side (you should get 10 buns about the size of dinner rolls).
  9. To pipe the crosses (or other pattern), snip the very corner off of the sandwich bag and squeeze the lines horizontally and vertically.
  10. Place the buns in the hot oven for 10 minutes and then turn the heat down to 200oC for a further 10 minutes.






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