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How To Get Kids To Try New Foods 

How To Get Kids To Try New Foods 

At some point, most kids will start to get picky with their food choices. Although expected, it can be stressful and frustrating for a parent. Read on to learn how to recognize when picky eating has gone too far, and how you can break out of the rut! Exceptional tips on how to get kids to try new foods:

My Kid Only Wants To Eat One Thing

When your child only wants to eat one thing at every meal it is very likely they have entered a food jag. This is very common when a child is about to start or is currently experiencing a growth spurt.

Studies have shown that children will crave simple carbs, like white bread and white pasta, right before they grow! The best thing to do in these scenarios is to offer them enriched grain products that are full of vitamins, minerals, and fiber so they get the most nutrition from every bite.

Once they have passed through this period of growth their palate will naturally increase again, and they will be more receptive to trying new foods.

The Division of Responsibility

Ellyn Satter developed a feeding method called the division of responsibility, which is highly regarded in the pediatric nutrition community. Her model states that parents provide the meals and provide variety, but it is ultimately up to the child to choose how much they want to eat.

Allowing children to choose portion sizes that meet their appetite is key to their relationship with food. It helps them to deepen their understanding of hunger cues and better recognize when they are satiated. If you want to learn more about her methods, you can check out her website here. 

Only Cook One Meal

You want to avoid preparing different meals for your kids compared to what the adults are eating. Some texture and seasoning modifications may need to happen, but the bottom line is that if you are having chicken, everyone is having chicken.

When your child doesn’t want to eat, but you are concerned for their nutrition, it is tempting to cave and make them whatever they want. Unfortunately, this perpetuates picky eating.

Remember, per the Division of Responsibility, you are responsible for supplying the meals and the child is responsible for choosing how much they want to eat.

Keep Emotions Out Of the Dining Room

When your child refuses to eat food (even though it was their favorite food yesterday), parents should do their best to avoid showing frustration at the dinner table. Emotional responses, especially negative ones, can severely impact the entire eating experience.

There are positive moments too when your child finally tries something new and you want to clap and celebrate! If possible, try to refrain from expressing this at the dinner table. As the child develops it may start to associate trying new foods as a feat of success, but really it is just part of normal eating. Adults don’t hear cheers and claps when they try new food, right?

Keep Exposing Them To New Foods

The current literature suggests that you need to offer the same food anywhere from twelve to thirty times before your child will agree to eat it.

You may want to experiment with the way the food is prepared. An example would be a hard-boiled egg versus a scrambled egg. When your child is ready, they will accept the food. All you can do is continue to offer it.

Signs Your Child May Have A Nutrient Deficiency

There may be times when your child refuses to eat entire food groups, which can increase their risk of a nutrient deficiency. If you have any concerns you should follow up with a doctor and possibly complete a blood test.

The most common nutrient deficiency is low iron. The symptoms will present through pale skin, darkness under the eyes, low mood, irritability, and inability to concentrate. An iron supplement can help correct the deficiency but a doctor will need to recommend the dose.

You may be interested: Ultimate Summer Checklist for Kids

Image credit: Hannah Tasker on Unsplash; Christian Bowen on Unsplash




Julia Zakrzewski

Julia Zakrzewski is a Registered Dietitian and a lifelong foodie. Her passions include eating great food, debunking nutrition myths, and educating people on how they can improve their health! Her specific interests include diabetes and cardiovascular health. In her spare time Julia teaches yoga, and walks her miniature schnauzer.

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