Aren’t kids funny when it comes to eating? No, not really. They can be extremely picky, and at times there seems to be no rhyme or reason to what they will eat or not eat. So how do we overcome this? Well, we are here to help with some great tips and information.
In reality, there is a method to their madness. It’s up to us to understand what it is so we may be able to help them expand their palate. A lot of the time, it’s a tactile issue. After that, it’s their taste buds don’t agree with the taste. We have five easy to follow tips to help you get your toddler trying new foods. As always, consistency is key when working these tips with your toddler, but since it was just mentioned, you will have access to five fresh tips. Here we go!
Try When Hungry
The best and easiest way to get your toddler to try new foods is, well, make sure they’re hungry. We know the tip ourselves all too well. We can all think of a time when we were extremely hungry, and whatever it was we ate, it tasted like a five-star meal. The same principle helps with our toddlers, too. The hungrier we are, the more we want to satisfy that craving and remove the awful feeling of hunger from our bodies. So if you want them to try something new, this would be the time to try and introduce it. Just make sure you have step three handy just in case the experiment goes awry.
Try Me Bites
This tip is the backbone of what is used for my grandson. He can be an extremely picky eater, wanting or craving only junk foods or unhealthy foods. So his Nana came up with an idea to help him overcome this habit: “Try me” bites. The purpose of them is just as it says: willingness to try at least one bite.
He knows that if he tries one bite, at least he won’t have to try another one if he doesn’t want and will get something else to eat. So he tries, and if he likes it, he eats the rest. If he is neutral about it, then he eats some of it, and if he doesn’t like it, it’s done. Sometimes at a later date, we will have him try the food again if he didn’t like it the first time. Sometimes he doesn’t mind trying it again, and sometimes he throws a huge fit. So parents: if you’re going to do this, then make sure not to force it on them.
Try With Favorite Foods
Another useful tool to utilize is to try and pair the try me bite with one of their favorite foods. It helps with linking the food you want them to try with a portion of food, which already brings a positive response to them. You want them to try broccoli? Pair it with the mac and cheese they love so much. It also helps because, in their minds, you’re starting to create a reward system that their minds are linking to, which leads us beautifully to number four.
Make Eating Fun
Anything we view as unpleasant becomes more pleasant when we attach it to a fun time, and eating is the same way. We, as parents, had probably utilized the method more than one when it came to feeding them baby food. But maybe we stopped when we want them to eat real food. Eating should always be an enjoyable experience, no matter how old you are, and we should be encouraging eating to be fun for our children as well. And if we are doing this, then we are increasing the likelihood that they will enjoy the food they may not have otherwise enjoyed. So maybe tie jokes to the meal. Or maybe the airplane game. Maybe both!
Just don’t be afraid to smile, laugh, and have some fun. It’s just you and the child, after all, so there’s no need to be strict on social etiquette. And the more fun Brussel sprouts are, the more we are likely to like them. I think back to the old Popeye cartoons. To this day, I like spinach, and it’s all thanks to Popeye eating it to become strong so he can save the day. Fun worked for me, and it can work for you as well.
Eat and Enjoy Too
Eating the same food as they are and enjoying it with them is THE most important tip we can give. And this is both directly and indirectly. What we mean by this is: Directly is eating with them and eating the same food they are and enjoying it. Not just fake enjoying it, but allowing your child to see you enjoying the food and having fun with it. Children are “monkey see, monkey do” creatures, and so the more they can observe you enjoying the same food you are trying to get them to enjoy, the more likely they will be willing to try it and like it themselves, because ultimately, especially at a young age, they want to be just like us.
So this means we also need to make sure what they observe when not in direct contact is aligned with food enjoyment, too. Children are always watching us, even when we think they aren’t. If they see us pretending to like salad, eating very little of it, and then later enjoying a bag of Doritos, then guess what they’re going to want to enjoy too? That’s right. Not the salad next time.
We, as parents or guardians have a responsibility to be their examples in life. Please also remember: children are very rebellious. Just because you tell them to eat something because it’s good for them does not mean they automatically will. Likely the opposite. Children need an emotional attachment to ideas or activities because their brains aren’t developed enough to link logical thought to them. So make eating yours and make it fun!