Guardian Childcare & Education

7 Ways to Introduce New Foods

3rd October 2017

Getting your children to feast on new fare can feel like getting them to volunteer to go to bed – impossible. This can leave you with a mountain of rejected foods and completely out of ideas. Because your little one is testing their boundaries, being finicky with their food is all part and parcel of their development. The way we view and consume food comes from our parents and this learned food disposition will go on to inform whether we choose healthy food or takeaway. Because healthy children turn into healthy adults, here are seven ways to introduce new foods.

Keep Calm

Even if you’ve spent the greater part of an hour cooking and dealing with a long list of rejected foods, try to stay calm and keep your frustration at bay. If you’re relaxed, they’ll relax and be less likely to turn mealtime into a tantrum. It won’t happen straight away, but focus on the bigger picture – to create a functional family dinner table and make for happy memories around sharing meals and stories.

Hang on For Hunger

The author of French Kids Eat Everything, Karen Le Billon, advocates for keeping kids from snacking within two hours of dinner time. The reasoning is that if your child is genuinely hungry and ready to eat, they’re more likely to lend their taste buds to something new.

All or Nothing

When it comes to new tastes, sticking to a hard line and insisting that they eat the whole helping won’t often work. If you’re looking to inspire variety and create curiosity around new flavours, it doesn’t really matter if your child doesn’t consume their entire plate. In fact, serving them a small amount of this new fare is ideal and won’t overwhelm them.

Green Thumbs

If you’re lucky enough to have a garden at home, your children can watch their veggies grow from seed to squash. Get them involved, let them get their hands dirty and get them gardening. If they see the whole growing process, they’re more likely to sample the cherry tomatoes they’ve watched from garden to plate.

No Food Fill-ins

We’re all familiar with the cycle of offering backup food when the main fare isn’t fancied. Children will learn quickly that there’s little point trying new flavours when they know pasta will be presented if they persevere. Children will eat eventually if they’re hungry so don’t fall into the yoghurt trap just because you think they’ll go to bed with an empty tum.

Food Enthusiasm

Whether or not you like celery – if your children see you chomping on it, they’ll be more willing to give it a go. Set the example of eating even your least favourite foods and you’ll soon see some copycat munching and crunching.

Store Collaboration

On your trips to the supermarket with the little ones in tow, take them to the produce aisle and make sure you marvel over the abundance of fresh food. Let them pour over the colour and variety and throw in a fun fact like ‘Did you know that coconuts grow on really tall trees and fall to the ground for you to eat?’ Then, let them put one in your trolley for trying later.

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