When trying solids, most babies are thrilled to be trying something new, something their family eats! Those eager little eaters, often adventurous and excited to try new flavors, grow up though. When they grow up, they often become picky toddlers and kids. Wondering how to get kids to try new foods? Our top 7 tips are sure to help frazzled families.
Become a model
Children want to be just like their grown-ups and that includes how grown-ups talk and act around food. Kids try food if you model the behavior you’d like them to emulate. If you try new foods and are honest- “That was delicious”, “That wasn’t my favorite”, “This is different than I expected but I’m still glad I tried it”; they will adopt those habits, too! It’s a great way to show kids to try new foods. Consider it the beginning of a family eating adventure- one that lasts a lifetime!
Food is food - not a reward
Whether it’s cookies, cake, chips, ice cream, or candy- no food should be on a pedestal. If you’ve been searching for food for picky toddlers, ditch the old way of thinking “No dessert until you finish your dinner”. The old thinking sets kids up to believe that sweet or salty snacks are “better” than the pasta you just served. Serve a small amount of a sweet or salty treat alongside dinner or lunch, once in a while. It will become a normal exposure and no longer hold such a special place in their mind.
Ask your child what sounds good to them for dinner/lunch/breakfast this week. Thinking of food for picky toddlers can be draining. Getting their input lets them feel invested in the process of making dinner. It helps them feel like an active member of the family, and they are more likely to try a new food if they help pick it out or prepare it. If they don’t pick new foods and only familiar favorites? No big deal! They still have a feeling of control and a sense of pride when their favorite meal hits the table.
Play it safe
If you’re wondering how to get picky eaters to try new foods while you’re planning out your meals and snacks, try to incorporate one food you know they love and will always eat. This might be plain rice or toast. Maybe it’s mac and cheese or grapes. Try to remember to serve a small amount of familiar, safe, food alongside a new dish or recipe. If you introduce broccoli for the first time, try serving it alongside some kid-friendly mac and cheese (with hidden veggies).
Stop being a short-order cook
It’s always a great idea to welcome kids' ideas for a weekly menu but you ultimately get to decide what is served for meals and snacks. When dinner is on the table, that is the meal that is prepared. Let everyone know, these are the options and the kitchen is now closed. If you’re constantly worried about serving food for your picky toddler, this is a great tip to implement.
Make food fun
Using fun food picks, sandwich cutters, and dips are great tips on how to get a picky eater to try new foods. You can even change how the foods look- a picky eater may not want to try beets but a root veggie chip might tickle their curiosity and get them to try it.
Don’t give up
Remember it can take many exposures, sometimes up to 40, for kids to try new food. This can include seeing it on their plate, touching it, smelling it, tasting it, and spitting it out, before ultimately choosing to eat and enjoy the food.
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