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getting kids to try new foods
Savvy Parenting

Ways to Get Your Kids Excited to Try New Foods 

Is your kid a picky eater? There’s good news–research shows with repeated exposure and limited parental pressure, children learn to accept new foods.  

Follow these ten tips to transform your mealtimes. Your picky eater will be trying new foods in no time.   

1) Start with Small Portions 

When you introduce new foods to your kid, start with small portions–one stalk of broccoli, two peas, or a dab of hummus. You don’t want to intimidate your child with a plateful of unfamiliar food. Additionally, this saves you from wasting vast amounts of food if your child decides they don’t like the taste. 

2) Let Your Kid Work Up an Appetite 

Your child is more likely to try new foods if they have a healthy appetite for dinner. Be aware of how much milk or juice your child consumes during the day, so they’re not filling up on beverages. To ensure your kid’s hungry for dinner, try moving their snack time up by an hour or two. You could also consider trying a new healthy food for their snack. Vegetables like bell peppers and sugar snap peas make great snacks for toddlers.  

3) Use Foods They Like 

Another way to get your kid interested in trying new foods is to mix them with something they already like. For example, if your child loves spaghetti and meatballs, try adding broccoli to the pasta as well. Likely your child will be more willing to try new food when they recognize it with something familiar.  

4) Offer Non-Food Rewards 

To help your child accept new foods, you’ll need to guarantee they have repeated exposure. One study found it took between ten and 15 tries for children to like the food they had previously hated. Parents can help children through this process by offering a chance to try the food but not pressuring them to finish it. Offering non-food rewards like stickers or a trip to the playground after dinner could further motivate the child to try a food.  

5) Have Your Child Plan the Menu 

Another way to get your kid excited about new foods is to get their input about the weekly menu. Bring them into your meal preparation process. If you’re considering a few meals you’d like to make for the week, ask them for their preference. When it comes time to eat the food at dinner, you can remind them–they picked the meal. This will increase their excitement to try the new food. 

6) Add a Little Flavor 

If you find your child disinterested in certain foods, they could find the flavor boring, especially if you’re introducing them to raw vegetables. Don’t hesitate to add herbs, spices or other flavors to your meals to increase the flavor. You can also introduce your child to condiments such as ketchup, mustard and ranch dressing. You might soon find your little eater isn’t so picky after all. 

7) Model Healthy Eating 

One of the best ways to help your child get excited about different foods is by trying them yourself. Modeling the behavior of being an adventurous and healthy eater will show your child all they need to learn when it comes to dietary habits. Research has found children display interest in what’s on their parent’s plates. If you’re eating healthy foods, your toddler will be more likely to try them. Be a good role model for your child–eat the foods you want them to try. 

8) Let Your Kid Help Cook 

A fun method to get your kid interested in trying new foods is to let them help with meal preparation. Not only can it reduce mealtime stress, but research shows children who are involved in making food are more likely to eat the meal. Working with food tends to help kids have a more positive attitude about food in general, and it provides an excellent opportunity for them to learn healthy life habits.  

Consider asking your child to help wash vegetables, measure or mix ingredients or grate cheese. Other helpful kitchen tasks include setting the table and filling water glasses. 

9) Talk With Your Child 

Ensure your mealtime isn’t just about trying new foods. Shifting the emphasis off of your child being a picky eater will help alleviate some of the stress accompanying dinnertime. Guarantee each family member feels like they’re connecting by asking about their day.  

Try asking your child ice breaker questions like, “if you could meet a character from any book, who would it be?” Or “what’s your favorite YouTube channel and why?” When you make your mealtime about bonding as a family, your picky eater is less likely to feel pressure to try new foods–meaning they’ll be a little more adventurous, try the new meal again and in time, accept the food they used to hate.   

10) Change Your Environment 

Switching up your scenery is another way to mix things up and get your kid excited about new foods. Try taking your family to eat in the park, out to eat at a restaurant or head over to grandma and grandpa’s house. Sometimes all the family needs is a change in perspective, and a picky eater is ready to try something new.  

Ten Tips to Help Your Picky Eater 

You’re not alone if you’ve got a picky eater in your family. Rest assured, your child’s food horizons can broaden! Try these ten tips to help your child try new foods today.    

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