1. Easy Does It
When we’re offering new foods to our children, we want to make the experience underwhelming for them rather than overwhelming. Also, key word there: offer, not force. In other words, we have to give them small amounts of the foods we’re trying to get them to passionately love one day. For example, if you have a bowl of peas, you’ll want to put a small portion on their plates and also, be mindful of how much of their favorite food you’re putting on the plate as well. Offer a small portion of the favorite food and an even smaller portion of the new food.. If you absolutely fill up their plate with their favorite food, they’re less likely to have room for their least favorite foods. So, try to offer them just a small portion of their favorite food and a very small portion of the new food you are offering.
2. Give Choices
Even better than you putting a small portion on their plates, ask them if they’d like to serve themselves (if they’re able to do this without throwing the bowl off of the table, falling into the bowl of peas, etc.) Ask them if they’d like to serve with the blue spoon or the green spoon. Or ask them on which part of the plate they would like this small serving of peas. If you give them some options, they feel more in control of the situation and will be more likely to let that food be invited onto their plate. And having a say in what we eat and how much we eat is something we all like regardless of our age.
3.If At First You Don’t Succeed
If at first you don’t succeed, you might need to try about ten to twelve times. Studies have shown that children with more limited diets might need to see a food and be close to it without even eating it between ten to twenty times before they’re willing to try it. Sometimes if we offer something once and a child says no, we think, that’s it. He doesn’t like it. But, sometimes it’s a matter of exposure.
4. If You’re Happy & You Know It
Show your enjoyment of the food you’re eating. The goal isn’t to make your child feel compelled to try the food but rather, to show that this food is good, safe, and tasty. If while you’re eating, you tell your spouse, “thanks for making this cauliflower. It’s so delicious!” and your child chimes in to say, “No, it’s yucky! It’s disgusting!” your response might be to say, “no it’s not! You don’t mean that. Cauliflower is amazing!” Well your kiddo doesn’t think so, and it’s alright that your child has not so positive feelings towards cauliflower. We have to be okay with kids having their feelings and feeling their feelings. We aren’t going to talk them out of how they feel. Instead, we can use this as a teaching moment, “Josh, I hear you saying you don’t like this food and that’s ok. We can see though that other people like it and we want to let people enjoy the things they like.” Try to bring it to a level they can understand, without getting upset about it or feeling like your child needs to change their feelings around it. For kids who are getting a little older, they may need to modify how they’re talking about food to be sensitive to other people eating around them, but remember, these are all lessons learned little by little. It’s okay that they have their feelings and it’s also okay to teach them to be respectful of what other people enjoy. Find times when you’re calmer and cooler to use these moments to teach about respecting other people’s food choices and being able to express themselves.