Instead of struggling to get your child to eat new foods, grow a great taster.
Tell your toddler that he doesn’t need to eat anything new. Instead, you simply want him to taste and rate. That’s what a food critic does!
This strategy works by changing the dynamic around new foods in 3 key ways:
- It’s easier for your child to comply because tasting is a less daunting task than eating.
- It teaches your child how to try new foods by asking him to form opinions about different aspects of food (taste, texture, appearance, aroma, temperature) instead of allowing him simply to reject or accept a new food out-of-hand.
- It gets your child in the habit of trying new foods on a daily basis.
Step 1: Pick 2 new foods that you would like your child to try.
If your child is extremely picky, choose items that are different versions of foods she already eats – different kinds of cheese, or different flavors of yogurt. Stack the deck in your favor by choosing foods you would expect your child to like. As she gets better at tasting new foods you can branch out to include more “exotic” flavors such as a sweet red pepper. (Don’t think your kid will ever touch peppers? Read Turning Your Kids’ Taste Buds Around.)
Step 2: Ask your child to taste one of the food items every day.
It is extremely important that you do this everyday because you want the experience of trying new foods to become a common one. If you think your child is up to it, have her taste 2 of the items daily – and compare them.
Ask your child to consider five aspects of the food:
Step 3: Have your child rate each food at least 14 times. Keep a log like this of your child’s ratings.
I know 14 times seems like a lot, but if you stop too early, you’ll miss the magic mark. Remember, repeated exposure is the key to new food acceptance.
Step 4: Review the log with your child from time-to-time so he can see that his evaluations change.
I know that deep down you probably don’t believe your child will ever like a disliked food, but it happens. What’s more, most kids enjoy playing the rating game. And as they get more accustomed to trying new foods, they end up eating new foods too. It’s all about what they get used to, or their habits.