Opening your kids’ minds to new foods is so important, but new foods can be scary. All the different colors and textures, unfamiliar smells or tastes, and sometimes they just don’t look good. So what can you do to encourage new foods around your picky eaters without starting a meltdown? Take a look at our favorite tips to make food a little more interesting for your kids.
Offer the new food with foods you know your kids like. When you introduce something alongside foods that your kid knows they like, they’re more open to trying the new food. According to Katrina Anderson, a Family Life Educator with Sanford CHILD Services, offering the new food more than once can also encourage your kids to try it. It can often take multiple attempts, sometimes as many as 15 attempts, before they decide whether they truly like the new food or not.
Make foods interesting and fun. Color and texture can play a big role in whether or not a kid likes new foods. They may find new foods more appealing if those foods are perceived as fun. Serving foods that can be served in fun shapes or are brightly colored can help encourage interest. For example, broccoli and cauliflower looks like trees. Or use a cookie cutter to make a cucumber slice look like a flower! Learn more about intriguing picky eaters with this article.
Get them involved. Ask your kids to help you prepare the food or meal to help them feel excited to try something. Take it one step further and have your kids help plant a garden and pick new fruits and vegetables they want to try. Once the food is grown, they can taste test the fruit or vegetable they planted.
Enjoy a “family-style” meal. Family-style meals are a lot like Thanksgiving dinners. Place different foods in serving dishes and set them on the table for everyone to serve themselves. It’s a great opportunity for children to watch their family eat. According to Sarah Boese, a Food Program Educator with Sanford CHILD Services, children tend to choose healthier options if they see others doing the same. Family-style meals encourage independence and social skills, as well as improve fine motor skills.
Getting your kids interested in new foods is a process—sometimes it works seamlessly, and sometimes it’s an uphill climb. Be patient, be consistent, and you’ll have your kids trying new foods in no time.