When a child clamps their mouth shut and refuses to eat anything but their favourite spaghetti or pushes their plate away, determined not to eat the “yucky” food offered parents everywhere despair. While the firm “you’ll eat what you are given” ideal works brilliantly with some other children are less comfortable trying new foods. These tried and tested methods will help turn nightmare toddler tea-times back into a fun and stress-free family affair.
Top Tips for Encouraging Children to Try New Foods
Make Food Exciting
Dress up a plate, experiment with colours and shapes as well as mixing old foods and new ones. There are some fabulous examples of fun child-friendly food and lunch box ideas on sites such as Pinterest.
Let Children Choose
Even younger children soon start craving independence and so using this to encourage children to try new foods is a great idea. Offering children a choice of one or two new snacks or foods alongside their usual meal allows them to make the decision about which one they want.
Don’t Force It
Sometime children genuinely don’t like a taste or texture of a food and so won’t entertain it from then on. Insisting they eat it will result in more harm than good, tears and potentially set the stage for on-going food issues in the future. Revisit the same food in six months as taste buds do develop as time goes on.
Make Fruits and Vegetables a Free Food
For older children have fruit available for them to take as and when they want some. Carrot sticks and cut up grapes in the fridge are also great choices and when a child is able to choose or help themselves it becomes much less about a battle over food and much more about natural curiosity and a sense of independence taking over.
Most children love to cook and bake, and even the youngest children are able to stir or mix. When children are able to take part in making part of their own meals food becomes more of a fun part of the day and meal time ceases to be something that is endured.
Grow Your Own
Children who grow their own fruits and vegetables as well as herbs and salads are much more likely to try them on their own plates. Getting a food past the lips is often the biggest challenge as a child will normally choose to continue to eat something if they like the taste.
Setting a Great Example
Parents who themselves enjoy a range of foods and who follow a healthy and balanced diet in front of their children are parents more likely to find it easier to get them to try these foods too. Taking the mystery away and showing younger children especially that they are tasty and grown up foods encourages them to have a taste of them too.
Implementing Try First, “No Thank You” later
This is a simple way to get children to try foods and make up their own mind whether they like them or not. Encourage children to have three bites. If after that time they really don’t like a food all they have to say is “No, thanks” and it’ll be taken away or they may leave it. This once again promotes choice-giving as well as helping parents get past that all-too frustrating hurdle of clamped shut lips.
Some children really do struggle to overcome a dislike or mistrust of new foods and so offering incentives and positive encouragement as well as congratulations and rewards for trying is a great way to encourage a child to try new foods.
There are so many fabulous foods and drinks in the world and it would be a shame for children to miss out. Using a combination of these techniques is sure to help encourage children to try new foods.