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As your children transition to eating solid food and start to explore new flavors, you might find that there are some foods they refuse to eat. While it can be a hurdle to find ingredients or dishes that your kids will eat without bending over backward at each meal, it is important to make sure your little ones are getting all the nutrients they need.
Here are some ideas on how you can get your kids to try new food and bring back peace to mealtime.
Create a space for your family to eat together without distractions or technology. Not only will this make a positive environment around food and eating, but it will allow you to model healthy eating for your kids.
Listen to Their Bodies
Pressuring kids to eat or punishing them if they don’t take a certain number of bites can make them dislike foods or ignore their bodies are giving them. Allow your kids to express if they are hungry and avoid snacking before meals so that they are hungry and willing to eat what is on the plate.
By forcing kids to finish a full meal or clear their plate, they may be ignoring their hunger cues. Serve smaller portions at first and let your child decide if they would like to eat any more, instead of loading a plate up. This technique can help you avoid the power struggle that can take place during mealtimes.
Bribes can make some food seem more appealing because it is presented as a reward. Using dessert or a treat as a reward builds a hierarchy of food and will make the broccoli seem even less alluring.
Prepare chicken in different marinades, new dishes, or add new dipping sauces to try. Being creative at mealtime and with snacks can help you make new vegetables or fruits exciting and more of an adventure. Cut up apples in fun shapes or pair a veggie with a dip they love.
It can take upward of ten tries to decide if you like a food or not. That doesn’t mean ten small bites in one sitting; it means multiple attempts at different times and trying it in different ways. If raw carrots don’t appeal to your toddler, try steamed or mashed carrots before giving up. Keep a log of how many times your children have tried a particular food.
Encouraging kids to help be a part of the meal planning and cooking process can help them make choices and feel more willing to test new food. Allow them to choose which vegetable you pick out at the grocery store and give them age-appropriate tasks that they can do to assist during meal prep.
When to Call Your Doctor
If you are concerned that your child is not eating enough or lacks major nutrients, contact their pediatrician. They can help you understand if your child is on track with their growth rate and offer professional advice.
TalkingParents blogs are for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Always consult with a qualified attorney regarding legal matters.