5 easy tips for getting kids to try new foods without pressuring them.
We have all been there before, the uncontrollable feeling to urge your kids to “just take one bite”. As parents we so desperately want to our kids to try everything on their plate, eat a variety of foods, and get the nutrients they need to grow and develop. It’s not your fault! Our society puts a lot of stress on us to raise perfect healthy eaters. Truth is no one is a “perfect” eater and we have very little control over everything that goes into our little ones mouth! Instead as parents let’s focus more on what we can control, which is providing our kids a variety of foods and a positive food environment. I talk a little bit more about this on my blog all about Raising Our Kids to have a Healthy Relationship with Food.
Trying a new food can be scary for kids, especially the older they get. There is actually a word for it called “neophobia” aka fear of anything new. It’s very common especially in toddlers when they turn 2. Some kids experience this more than others, just know its normal and with eventually improve! There are probably endless tips and tricks for getting a little one to try a new food. But the end goal is to make to food more approachable and familiar.
So how can we get our kids to try new foods and eat what they need to grow and develop without putting on the pressure?
- First off we need to take the pressure off of us as parents!
- One way that has helped me the most is reminding myself that most kids are intuitive eaters and will eat until their are full and satisfied. And, if exposed to a variety of different foods will, over the course of a week (and sometimes month), end up consuming the nutrients they need to grow.
- Start by describing the food on the plate.
- This could be simply naming the different foods on their plate or foods offered at the table.
- Talk about the color, flavor or texture. Giving the food some description will help make it more approachable and interesting to try.
- Relate it to something they have tried before. Tomatoes are red like strawberries, or snap peas are crunchy like crackers.
- Eat along side your little one.
- Model eating the same foods is just another way to show them how to consume it and let them know it’s safe to eat!
- Engage in conversation and have your little one describe the food to you!
- You can ask questions like what color are the tomatoes, how does the food taste,how does the food feel in your mouth etc.
- Lastly, remember it may take up to 15 to 20 times for your little one to actually try a new food. Even if you are creating a positive environment around new foods and trying everything here! Your little one may also decide they don’t like a food they have been eating. Both are normal and very common! Try not to feel discouraged and continue to offer the foods at meals and snacks. You could also consider preparing the food in a different way from time to time.