Want to know the secret to successfully introducing new foods to picky eaters?
Every day, I receive dozens of e-mails from readers like you wanting to feed their children a larger variety of foods. The problem: The kid refuses to try new items. I decided to ask Dr. Dina Rose, a child-feeding expert and author of It’s Not About the Broccoli, for a little insight.
From Dr. Dina Rose—
Never (and I mean never) ask your children to eat anything new! Settle for a taste. Or a touch. Or maybe even just a sniff. When it comes to teaching kids to enjoy new foods, pressure is your enemy. And—at least from our kid’s perspective—being expected to eat something they’ve never tasted before is a lot of pressure.
The shift from eating to tasting may not seem like a big deal. Most parents think that’s what they’re doing when they say to their kids, “Just taste it, and if you don’t like it, you don’t have to eat it.” But if you hear this statement from your child’s perspective—“If you do like it, you will have to eat it”—it’s easier to see why some kids balk. Especially if you introduce new foods the way most parents do, by putting a big heap on the plate at dinner. What if your child doesn’t want to eat it, or even thinks he might not want to eat it? The safest course of action is to not even taste it.
What can you do instead?
- Make tasting fun.
- Take the surprise out of new foods.
- Trust that your children will naturally start eating new foods after they become comfortable tasters.
Make Tasting Fun
One surefire way to get kids psyched about trying new foods is to amp up the fun factor. You don’t always have to stick to healthy items such as asparagus and fish. Go to the ice cream parlor, and sample new flavors of ice cream! Crack open a box of unfamiliar crackers! I know that getting your kids to like more of these kinds of foods seems counterproductive, but it’s not. It will help change your children’s attitude towards new, and that’s the goal.
Take the Surprise Out of New Foods
It takes a lot of courage to put something into your mouth when you know absolutely nothing about it, and the information most parents give their kids—“yum, this is good”—just doesn’t cut it. Being able to make predictions is key to trying new foods. Practice telling your children as much as you can about whatever food you want them to taste. “This is crunchy like the chicken nuggets you like.” “This is sweet, almost like a cookie.” Then, instead of asking your children if they like what they’ve tasted, ask them to describe something about the food.
Trust that your children will naturally start eating new foods after they become comfortable tasters.
As your children become accustomed to tasting new foods, they’ll naturally want to taste even more new foods. And tasting will eventually lead to eating. No question about it.
Dr. Dina Rose, PhD is a sociologist, parent educator, and feeding expert empowering parents to raise kids who eat right. She’s also the author of the book It’s Not About the Broccoli. You can find Dr. Rose on Facebook and Twitter.