Is your child stubbornly refusing to try new foods? Learn how to get them on board with trying different flavors and textures in this easy-to-follow guide

Get your child to try new foods.

Get your child to try new foods

Did you know there is an effective way to get your child to start new foods?

Children are not always ready to try new foods. This could either be because they previously had a bad experience while trying a new food or they are just not comfortable trying new foods.

I knew a friend’s neighbor who would visit my friend often. One of those days I happened to be there. She offered some homemade whole wheat cookies but the neighbor not only refused them. But she also didn’t eat any other food served after that. Just before leaving, we asked her you must be hungry. Why didn’t you have some food if not cookies? She said I am afraid to eat outside since I can’t refuse food I don’t like and I don’t like hurting aunty’s feelings.

We have all been told to complete our meals, or the person who prepared the meal will feel bad to eat everything or not waste food. These habits make children feel that they are not supposed to check in with their feelings like hunger, the comfort of eating, how much they can, or how they want to eat.

We need to create a positive environment for them to feel comfortable. Once they know that they have the freedom to eat what they want, where they want to eat it, how and how much they can eat. That trust can increase the chances of enjoying the food they normally eat and also trying new foods.

Apart from not being comfortable, some children go through traumatic experiences. For example, if a child is on puréed foods and the parents go through a divorce the child’s eating pattern can also get affected by the environment created over the years. Or when the child tries a new food but gets food poisoning leading to vomiting. It can lead to fear of falling sick every time they try new food.

Some children may just have sensory issues with food that could affect their chances of trying new foods. In these situations, the texture and appearance of the food make all the difference.

To answer the question I asked in the beginning regarding effective ways to get your child to try new foods.

Here are some methods you could try:

1. Use favorite foods as bait:

This method involves choosing an accepted food and gradually changing its size, texture, appearance, cooking method, etc. Once your child can accept new changes made to the accepted food, then change the ingredient while using the same size, method of cooking, or te, or texture so that similarity gets the child comfortable trying this new food. Sometimes, choose a favorite dish to modify gradually and get your child to eat an ingredient like a fruit. How can that be done is to introducing strawberry ice cream to strawberry yogurt, strawberry and yogurt to more strawberries less yogurt to only strawberries? This process takes some time and usually depends entirely on your child and the type of goal you want to achieve.

2. Trying something new with family or a role model.

When a child trusts someone with what they feel, they tend to accept the challenge of trying new foods even if it’s difficult. If  a children know that a parent will not make them feel uncomfortable or a friend will not eat something they don’t like. When that person tries a new food. There is more chance of your child trying it as well.

They just need a little more of that motivation and desire to try.

3. Positive reinforcement

This is a strategy used to encourage a new habit or an already existing one. You can praise your child verbally or you can reward tangible items.

You may wonder why we praise our children all the time their whole life. What I mean is not just, “wow”, “good job”, “claps” and many empty rewards. You need to decrease what they did after the words “wow” or “good job”. Sometimes you don’t even have to praise with words. Just describe their achievement and know you noticed it. For example, “Thank you for trying the carrot today I have taken extra effort to make it tasty for you”.

Examples of tangible rewards are extra screen time after food, playing in the park for more time, adding stickers to an achievement board, and so on.

4. Serving while eating food

Serve a new food with an already accepted one. This gives them a chance to touch it at the beginning and even try it later. This is the best strategy to use to get your child interested.

5. Eliminating all reasons that could prevent them from trying a new food:

Avoiding a person or videos on a screen can influence their decision of trying something new. We all have that one person close to our family who uses words like “yuck”, “chi”, “I don’t want” and “no way I am trying this disgusting thing” who indirectly influence our child’s eating behavior and we don’t realize it.

Not to mention the media added influence on our child’s eating habits. We need to be very mindful of what our child watches and how to serve food despite all the negative influences. We can’t stop what our child watches and listens to, but we can guide our child by observing what influences them and how to overcome the emotions they feel while trying new foods.

This advice is never enough unless we use the right ones for our children. Since all children respond differently. It takes a long time to figure out what strategy can encourage our child to get them to try new foods. We need to be mindful of what we say that could influence their eating habits and work around from there. Contact us at 1SpecialPlace for more.

Suhana Shriyan
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