After an exhausting and repetitive week, Erin finally makes it home late Friday night. Wanting a change, she decides to fix something new for dinner. Erin cooks cauliflower and carrots and adds them to her four-year-old daughter’s plate, next to the macaroni and cheese and hamburger. Instantly, her daughter turns up her nose to the new and foreign vegetable on her plate.
Erin begs her daughter and offers bribes with candy to get her to eat the cauliflower and carrots. Her daughter still refuses and Erin throws a way the untouched vegetables.
Do you ask yourself, “How do I get my children to try new and different foods?” Or “How do I introduce new food to my picky eaters ?”
Changing up the menu in your home can be a nice way to get out of the rut of the same old routine, but it can scary for children. Your children may not like change, especially in food, but you can ease the fear and make it a fun and enjoyable experience for your picky eaters .
Children, especially young children, like consistent routines. So while you like variety, they may resist it. Trying new things is a skill you can teach.What You Should Know Before Introducing New Foods
Children’s palates aren’t well developed; their taste buds are immature. That’s why their food preferences are often limited.
Avoid bribing your children with cake, candy or stickers to get them to eat healthy foods. This only teaches them to eat their food to get something in return, instead of teaching them to eat healthy to take care of their bodies.
Encourage your children to take “no thank you” helpings. “No thank you” helpings are when your children just take one bite of the new food before saying if they like it or not.
Do not force your children to be clean platers. If your children are full when they leave the table, then they are done. By forcing your children to eat, they could end up overeating or develop an eating disorder in the future.
If there is food left on their plate, then save it in the fridge for later. Treat it like a doggie bag at a restaurant, not as a punishment.
You can’t force your children to eat. Ultimately, your children have control over their own bodies and what goes into it, so you don’t want to push the issue of food to the point it becomes a power struggle.
Creative Solutions to Get Children to Try New Foods:
- Create fun names for food: Cauliflower can be called snowballs or broccoli can be called trees.
- Make faces or animals with the food, to make the presentation more child-friendly.
- Be creative with the food. Make “ants on a log” with celery, peanut butter and raisins.
- Put the food in a fun container. A toy boat or a toy bucket and shovel are fun containers you can put food in.
- Have children help make the menu, or pick out one new food a week at the grocery store.
- If you have a garden, invite your children to help plant and pick the vegetables you grow.
If your children still refuse to eat, then just simply lay out the food on the table and see if they want to try it then, but never force them to eat.
Trying new food can be scary for your children, but you can help them get over their fear by taking it slow and making eating fun.
For more tips and solutions to help your picky eaters eat healthier and more information about The Parent’s Toolshop® and its unique Universal Blueprint® problem-solving system, get the Picky Eaters and Food Issues multimedia training package. It’s a one-hour discussion among parents and nutrition professionals on how to handle the most common food issues parents face, like those in this article series.
Jody Johnston Pawel, LSW, CFLE is president of Parent’s Toolshop® Consulting, where she oversees an international network of Toolshop® trainers. She has 30+ years experience as a top-rated speaker and parenting expert to the media worldwide, including serving as the Co-Producer and Parenting Expert for the Emmy-nominated Ident-a-Kid television series. She is the author of the award-winning book, The Parent’s Toolshop® and countless multimedia resources that support and educate parents from diverse backgrounds and needs, and other adults who live or work with children. You can find them at her award-winning website, www.ParentsToolshop.com.
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