How to Get Your Child to Try New Foods
(Written by Dietitian, Mom, and Mealtime Negotiator- Katie Serbinski!)
Follow Katie on Instagram HERE.
You’d think as a registered dietitian and Mom of 4, I’d have this whole feeding kids thing figured out. Getting your child to try new [and maybe like] new foods is no easy task! But have no fear… there a few tricks you can try to open their mouths and taste buds to new textures and flavors.
I didn’t realize the angst and stress that would come with feeding small children. I’ll admit I was prepared for the sleepless nights, the teething, the ear infections, etc. But food? Heck! I love food. How could we create children that decide they’d like to use food as toys?! The reality is you can’t pick and choose your child’s eating habits. But I’ve quickly learned that there’s small victories in the grand scheme of feeding your picky eater. And that’s getting them to TRY new foods. Try being the keyword here… because in order to get your kids [or oneself] to like a food, they’ve got to try it first!
Offer favorites with new foods. This trick is KEY for my kids. And usually [typing while knocking on wood] works when I give them their ultimate favorite food: yogurt! So IF there’s a new food that I’d like them to pick up, sniff, and possibly put to their mouths, I give them their favorite “side” as the familiar food on their plate. Our go-to yogurt for the “familiar trick” is yogurt. If the troop decides to skip trying the newbie, I’m comforted knowing they are getting a good source of protein and calcium with a little sweetness to satisfy their hunger. Another bonus: many yogurt varieties and flavors are made without artificial sweeteners or preservatives. Something every person or parent can feel good about!
Vary your child’s favorite foods. What I really mean by this strategy is not to serve the same food twice in one day, or two days in a row. I “stole” this tip from a feeding expert and it’s worked out well for us. While it might seem like you need to have all kinds of foods stocked in your fridge or pantry, well, you are right. That’s doesn’t mean you have to buy a lot of everything though. A green bell pepper in toddler serving size can last a few days. But once you try this strategy for a week or two you’ll get into a rhythm and routine when it comes to buying those groceries. You can follow my weekly food prep [including these “new foods” on Instagram!].
Model healthy eating behavior for your children. Because I’m not much of a breakfast eater and my kids aren’t much of dinner eaters, I find the best time for me to model healthy eating behavior is during snack time and lunch. From fresh fruits and vegetables to grilled sandwiches and melts, I’m always trying to change up our lunch and snack routine with new, healthy foods.
Let them get hungry. This is a hard one. Because sometimes it’s just easy giving your kids something to munch on while you cook dinner or when you are at the doctor or church to prevent a meltdown. But if you can find another alternative [yes, we turn on the TV BEFORE dinner so prevents pantry perusing] then try to hold them off. A hungrier toddler is more likely to try new foods!
Serve it THEIR Way. If your child doesn’t like their food touching, serve new foods on plates that have sections or compartments. If your child likes dips such as ranch or BBQ sauce, serve it alongside the new food, even if you think it’s a weird combination. Or swap out the ranch for hummus or bean spreads. Don’t let this tip make you into a short order chef though. This is only if you have their favorite dips and spreads on hand!
So there you have it! Some tips and tricks that have helped expand my children’s palates beyond just Goldfish. Seriously… they could live off those things!
Since this isn’t my first rodeo feeding kiddos, I have a few other resources that might interest you:
7 Tips for Handling Picky Eaters
10 Dinners to Try with Your Picky Eater