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How to get your child to try new foods

25th September 2013

How to get your child to try new foods

Perhaps your child is a fussy eater, or maybe it’s just a phase, but every parent at some point will encounter difficulties getting their children to try new foods. This can occur at any point, from babies moving onto solids up to boisterous toddlers at nursery learning their first words – but whatever their age or disposition towards food, there are always tricks and tips you can employ to make meal times with unfamiliar foods a pleasure rather than a trial.

Get creative to ensure food is appealing. Whilst this involves a little more prep work, it helps your children to get excited about new foods. This could mean you get creative with the shapes they make on the plate, give each night of the week a theme and introduce a new item for each of those days – for example Hawaiian night could spell the introduction of a coconut related item – or simply to adapt your children’s favourite meals with the new ingredient. Mixing the familiar with unfamiliar as well as giving a theme or element of fun makes food infinitely more appealing.

Make it into a game with small portions or taster items. Trying foods out before meal times takes away the pressure and stress of actually getting to the end of a meal ensuring your child has eaten a good portion of what is on their plate – particularly the most nutritious items. Setting up small plates of items to try can open a discussion about which foods they like the most and which you could adapt into new recipes for them to try. For example if your child has an aversion to very sour things, olives may not be the best choice, but you can incorporate them into pasta sauces or onto a pizza.

Involve your children in the prep work. If your child is old enough to help out in the kitchen with small jobs, be it setting out their favourite set of plastic plates or ferrying non-breakable items to and from the table, involving them in the prep work that goes into dinner will instil a sense of pride.

As everyone knows, it is always better to praise than to scold. They will begin to associate meal times with positive things and may even gobble up foods that they don’t love just to achieve another warm fuzzy feeling after you’ve praised them. It seems too simple, but it works! And overall you will all enjoy meal times; free of battles and arguments, as well as little helping hands to prep for the meal.

Remain calm. Above all remaining calm is the most important step, it can be the hardest thing in the world to keep your cool when you’re at the end of your wits, but losing your temper in front of or directed towards your child will only exacerbate the situation.  And whilst all of these steps might not fit ideally into a busy lifestyle, simply taking the time to try one or two of them at your leisure could help in the long road to ensuring your child’s diet is interesting, full and varied.