Getting a child who is a picky eater to try new foods can be tough. The new appearances, smells, tastes, textures, and names can be scary to children. How can you help your child who will only eat grilled cheese to build a positive relationship with food instead of turning mealtime into a battle? Try these tips.
Teach your children about foods and recipes from all over the world, and about what children from different cultures eat, such as french pastry, Thai soup, or a texas chili bowl. Talk about professions in food, such as chefs, farmers, and bakers. Watch cooking shows together, and talk to them about your own cooking.
Tempt Them With Smells
Think about the smells that tempt you; bread baking or bacon frying. The smell is an important but often forgotten part of the eating experience. Play games that allow your child to positively engage with different food smell outside of mealtimes to demystify new feeds. Use spice jars to guess scents, or add extracts to bubbles before you blow them outside.
Make It Art
Use food in art projects. For example, make fruit stamps. Halved strawberries make heart-shaped stamps, and halved apples are star-shaped. Make jewelry from uncooked pasta, popcorn, or dried cranberries.
Change Your Language
Don’t think of your child as a picky eater. Instead, use hopeful language, like, “my child is learning to love new flavors.” Instead of saying you don’t like something, say you haven’t tried it enough times, and teach your kids to say the same. Positive statements validate your child’s feelings, while also recognizing that their tastes can change.
Sort By Color
Chop brightly colored fruits and vegetables, such as purple grapes, red strawberries, and green kiwis, into small pieces. Get your child to sort them by color, while saying the color’s name out loud. Focus on the game, not on their discomfort with the new food to encourage an acceptance of new textures.
If you’re struggling to persuade your child to try something, give it a new name. Steamed carrots? Boring. Superhero Vision Coins? Great! This works in the same way that restaurant menus use descriptions to get you to order. Creative names can encourage a child to be more interested and not be put off before they’ve even tried something.
Shine A Spotlight
A lot of kids love to be the center of attention. Encourage them to try new foods by appealing to this want. Get them to take a bit of new food, and then film them talking about it, whether they address you, a younger sibling, or a favorite stuffed animal.
Get Out Into The Garden
A garden can really help to improve a child’s understanding of produce and increase their intake of fruits and vegetables. Make growing food a family activity. Look at seed catalogs together, start the seeds, weed, and harvest the garden, and turn what you grow into dinner. Children are more likely to try what they have grown themselves.