Are you the parent of a fussy or picky eater? Or just a "normal child" who prefers cake to cabbage? Introducing new foods to your fussy eater can be stressful and frustrating. Here are some magic tips that will transform the way that you introduce new foods to your fussy eater, creating a calm and tranquil atmosphere and a much higher chance of your fussy eater trying the new foods.
Why Do Kids Hate New Foods?
The thing (OK, one of the things) I find most annoying is when my kids refuse to even try something new. I mean, how do you know you don’t like it if you won’t actually try it?
In short, they don’t. They just think they don’t like it and we know better as parents don’t we? We know that it has all their favourite things in it and if they’d just let go of that silly idea that we’re trying to poison them, they’d find it was delicious.
The problem is, it doesn’t work like that. You can’t force your kids to like things and if you try to push them to eat something they don’t want to, you’ll quickly find yourself fighting over food. Meal time disaster is just around the corner.
It doesn’t matter if your child is a “normal eating child”, a “picky eater”, a “fussy eater” or even a toddler who won’t eat, introducing new foods can be stressful to both parties.
The Number 1 Rule to Introducing New Foods to Picky Eaters
Want to know THE secret? I’ll give you 2.
- Don’t expect them to eat it because they probably won’t even lick it. Be happy if they poke it or tentatively sniff it. That’s progress!
- Under no circumstances pressure them to eat it. That is the sure fire way to them never wanting to try anything new ever ever ever again.
So much for what not to do. There are some positive things that you can do to help your picky eater try new foods but remember that it takes time.
How to Introduce New Foods to Picky Eaters. 7 Magic Tips.
- Don’t expect them to eat it. You want them to like it? ha! They aren’t even going to try it and as soon as you understand that, you’ll feel so much happier.
- No pressure. Not even a tiny bit. Nope, not even the ‘One Bite Rule’. (I know that some parents have success with the ‘one bite rule’ but the reality is that it is pressuring your kids to eat.)
- Keep it Small. A teeny tiny bite of something rather than a huge intimidating mountain.
- Make it Fun. Silly names, try chop sticks, tooth picks, play being at a restaurant. Invite friends. Anything that your kids will enjoy. How about letting them use their fingers?
- Get them used to tasting. Try new things they’ll like. Different cookies or ice cream flavours. Get them to describe what they taste and feel.
- Allow them to spit. Disgusting I know but if you force them to swallow something they don’t like they’ll never want to try anything new again.
- Food pairing. Mix it with a food you know they love. (Think cheese, bacon, ketchup or sprinkles.)
How to Introduce New Foods to Your Fussy Toddlers
All the above applies to toddlers but toddlers often need a bit of extra reassurance. Toddlers often need to feel safe and secure in a scary situation (yes, pasta in a different shape that normal can be very scary!) Allow them to try things in their own time and remember not to pressure them.
- Allow them to sit on your lap if they need to. (Ideally you don’t want your toddler sitting on your lap all the time but some toddlers need extra contact.)
- Hungry but not starving. If they are too hungry, they’ll just want familiar food.
- Hold their hand if they want to. Or give them a cuddle.
- With dessert. It doesn’t matter what order your kids eat food. My kids will often come back to something new and eat it with dessert. I’m just happy that they tried it.
- Not when they aren’t in the mood. You know what I’m talking about here? When the colour of their bowl is wrong, when their cookie is broken (from taking a bite out of it) when the world is just not right. Then! Don’t go try to rock the boat with new foods.
Keep Presenting New Foods to Fussy Eaters
It takes time to get used to something new. Kids (and adults) need to try something 10-15 times of actually trying it (rather than just looking at it.) If they’re going to just look at it for 30 times, that’s a lot of times.
I know it seems like a long, frustrating process but it’s much quicker than pressuring them to eat it and them refusing for the next 20 years.
Keep presenting them with healthy food they like and continuing to give them the opportunity to try new things. Prepare new things for adults only to eat and kids can try them if they want.
Put the Fun Back into Mealtimes
I believe teaching your kids how to enjoy healthy eating and living can be pain-free and even fun! I even believe that it’s possible to help your picky eater try new foods without your blood pressure going through the roof. Step back and take the "no worries" approach to introducing new foods to your picky eater and watch your family meal times transform into fun and happy events.