6 Tips to Get Your Picky Eater to Try New Foods
Picky eating is relatively common among children, but it's not the easiest issue to solve. Most of the time, fussy behaviors over food pass after a few months or years, but during that time mealtimes can be a nightmare. If you find yourself scratching your head over what kids meals to make each night, try some of the tips below. Hopefully, these picky eater strategies will get your little one to break out of their comfort zone and try something new!
- Start Small
Your child who doesn't like vegetables isn't suddenly going to eat a bowl of broccoli, right? However, they might be able to stomach one small pea with dinner. Incentivize the eating of the pea by letting them have something they like after they eat it. You can even have them hide it inside a favorite food, like a quesadilla. Add another pea each mealtime so that eventually they are consuming more. Remember, it can take up to 15 tries before a child likes a new food, so patience is a must.
- Add in New Foods That Are Similar
Start with the foods your child likes and move one degree away to something slightly new that is not alarming. For example, if your child likes chicken tenders, why not give a baked chicken breast a try? It's the same food, only cooked slightly differently. Perhaps you can even serve the chicken breast with some ketchup as if it were chicken tenders. By branching out slowly, you're showing your child that new foods aren't scary and can actually be good!
- Rotate Foods on a Schedule
While it may be tempting to give into your child's cries for a certain food every single day, it's important to establish a rotation so that they aren't eating the same thing all the time. If they get to have their favorite chicken nuggets today, then tomorrow you should serve pasta.
- Have Fun
Making mealtime fun is one of the best ways to help your child overcome their picky eating habits. Serve them finger foods with lots of condiments and sides and let them use their hands to eat if they want. At this stage, it's not about how they eat, it's the success of getting them to eat at all. Make mealtime lighthearted and playful so that they leave the table feeling positive towards it, rather than overwhelmed. You can even give them a sticker or other prize if they finish all of their food.
- Make Food Together
If your child is involved in the making of the meal, they are more likely to want to try their creation. From helping grow fruit and vegetables in your backyard garden to stirring in ingredients in the kitchen, your child will learn to love food the hands-on way.
- Cut Down on Snacking
When your child is getting full on cookies and chips at snacktime, they are not going to have any reason to want to eat the healthy dinner you prepared. It's very easy for them to turn up their nose at whatever you're serving because they aren't hungry to begin with. If your child is a picky eater, try reducing snacks throughout the day. When they do snack, make sure it is only on healthy foods. This way, they will be hungry for dinner and more open to whatever you plan to serve.