If you’ve been a parent for more than 10 minutes, you know that your kids aren’t always open to trying new foods. Whether they have a disdain for veggies or simply refuse to try anything that’s not from a fast food restaurant, dealing with a picky eater can be frustrating and discouraging. So how can you remedy the situation? Below are some tips and suggestions that can help you get your kids to try new foods without resorting to bribing, begging, or standoffs.
1. Keep a cool head, even if you’re fuming inside. Kids are incredibly perceptive, and if they see that you’re getting rattled by their refusal to try those Brussels sprouts, they will quickly realize that they’re the one in control. Once you’ve hit that point, the battle is all but lost. Keep an easygoing demeanor, so that the dinner table won’t turn into a war zone. Never let them see you sweat!
2. Start small. We’re talking one bite here, and if the child is extremely picky, you may need to shoot for just a fragment of a bite. The reason? If you set a large portion of an unfamiliar food in front of your child, it could be intimidating, which may discourage them from trying even one small bite. Try one single pea, a portion of a noodle, a small pinch of bread, or a fraction of one spinach leaf. Whatever it takes to minimize the intimidation factor, that’s the best approach to take. After all, if they hate the sample, at least they won’t have to get rid of a whole mouthful of it when they’re ready to spit it out.
3. Eat the food yourself, right in front of them, to show them that there’s nothing to fear. Kids are far more inclined to try a food when they see that their parents are eating the same thing, and enjoying it. Allow them to “graze” off your plate; not only will this increase the odds that they’ll be willing to try something new, but it can also create a great bonding and sharing moment as well.
4. Make it fun. When it comes to food, kids often judge a book by its cover, so do your best to spruce up the appearance of a new food in a fun or colorful way. Try using a cookie cutter to make various shapes such as stars, hearts, dinosaurs, etc. Taking this simple step can add just enough of a fun factor to convince your child to try something new.
5. Add a portion of the new food right beside one of their old favorites. Kids will be much more willing to give the new food a shot when they see it on the same plate as one of their old standbys.
6. Get your child involved in the preparation and/or cooking process. If they’re helping you prepare a new dish, they’ll be much more willing to try it out, just to experience some of the fruit of their labor. This will also give you some more time to bond with your little one, so it really is a no-lose situation.
Youthland Academy encourages healthy lifestyle choices through our Live Well (TM) Nutrition program. Learn more about how Youthland Academy is helping parents raise healthy kids!