How to get your little one to try new foods!
As a parent, you know the relationship with your child and new foods isn’t always a great one. It can be exhausting trying to encourage them to try even a single bite of food that they’re not interested in.
Something we hear all the time at the Kidco Kitchen goes something like this “I’m told my child eats all his veggies at daycare, but when he gets home it’s bread, pasta or nothing. What is your trick?” While I can’t say there is any single magic trick, there are a few things you can do to get your child to try new foods. AND it doesn’t involve bribing them with candies or begging on your knees. Bonus!
As you know, every child is unique. Getting an 11-month-old to try a new food is usually an entirely different situation than a two-and-a-half-year-old whose favourite word is “no.” Below are some tips and tricks you can try out in your household — but remember, you’ll have to find what works for your family, in this stage of your child’s life. With children, things change every day and every month. Maybe airplane noises and a winding spoon worked yesterday, but today is a whole new story!
Here are some things that worked for me (and some experts)!
Have them try new foods when they’re hungry
Don’t wait until they’ve had their entire meal to offer up some (delicious) greens. The children will be more likely to try new foods if it's offered at the start of their meal when they’re hungry.
Try family-style dining
One of the reasons we are so successful at Kids & Company with getting our children to try new foods is our family-style dining approach. In our centres, the children all sit together around a table, eating the same foods (when allergies and dietary restrictions permit) and serve themselves. This works for two reasons. In allowing the children to choose their own portions, they gain a sense of autonomy over their food decisions. The second reason it works is that the children see their friends eating the same food and are encouraged to mirror their actions. Try sitting together as a family a few times a week and eat the same food as a family!
Change the way you think (and talk) about foods
Karen Billon suggests talking more about taste, and less about nutrition. Instead of saying “Asparagus is so healthy for you!” say “Asparagus is so yummy!” Your child will (hopefully) begin to associate “asparagus” with “yummy.”
Let them have some say
When doing your weekly grocery shopping, ask your child which vegetable they would like to try. You can explain that some vegetables taste sweeter, some are bitter or salty. Children are more likely to try new things if they feel like it’s their idea!
Don’t give up
According to a study, it can take 5-15 exposures to food to get a child to like a new food. Start by offering small amounts of a new food and don’t pressure your little one to eat the entire thing!
Try not to push too much
If you have a toddler, you likely know that they often like to push back when asked to do things. This is normal — they’re trying to understand what their boundaries are and how much they can push back. Toddlers are just learning about themselves and trying to gain a sense of control. The best way to deal with this is to offer them foods and allow them to choose how much of it they eat.
Above all, remember it’s okay and normal for a three-year-old to dislike all sorts of foods. Just because your child dislikes broccoli today, doesn’t mean that they will for the rest of their life. Keep offering nutritious foods and they’ll get on board eventually!
Chef Lisa Ruscica
Chief Food Ambassador