There are few parts of parenting that are as notoriously challenging as encouraging your toddler to try new foods. It might be an uphill battle to introduce new snacks, flavors, and textures, but it doesn’t have to be that way!
Here are some simple ways to encourage your toddler to try new foods.
Tips to Convert Picky Eaters
Keep Portions Small
New and unfamiliar foods can easily intimidate or overwhelm your toddler, especially when they arrive in large quantities. It’s a good idea to introduce new foods in tiny portions—think one carrot stick, one apple slice, or a single spoonful of yogurt or oats.
Giving them a chance to taste the food just once will reduce their fear around it and reduce the amount of food you stand to waste, too.
Build On Their Favorite Foods
Does your toddler love pasta and peas? Try broccoli or squash the next time around. Do they have a soft spot for blueberry yogurt? Try adding in some fresh strawberries for their next snack.
You can provide variety in your little one’s meals without straying too far from the familiar foods they love. Explain to them that you have added a new ingredient for them to try so that they learn to expect and appreciate variation.
Give New Foods Glowing Reviews
Use descriptive language to talk to your child about the taste, texture, and flavor of a new food to pique their interest. Ask them to describe it too. Is this new food soft, firm or crunchy? Is it hot or cold? What does its color remind them of?
This is a fun, stress-free way to encourage them to enjoy new things without focusing simply on their likes and dislikes.
Don’t Force the Issue
Toddlers, just like adults, want a sense of control over their activities. This means that trying to force them to eat new foods won’t work in most cases.
You can decide what you put on their plate, but it’s up to them to decide if they eat it, and how much they’re willing to try.
Most parents know the struggle of toddlers only wanting to eat toast or fish sticks, and how changing their minds is a battle not easily won. If you’re in this phase and concerned about their nutritional intake, talk to your healthcare provider about vitamin supplements. This will stop you from stressing and let them discover new tastes at their own pace.
Don’t Take Things Personally
If your toddler is hesitant to try the roast veggies you made, you can rest assured that this probably isn’t a reflection of your cooking skills.
It has a lot more to do with them feeling comfortable, in control, and in the right mood to try something new.
Be Patient with Them
The large majority of young kids show resistance to trying new foods at some point. This is a completely normal phase of their development. In most cases, they will grow out of their picky ways.
Bear in mind that there will be some foods that your child doesn’t like. It might take them some time to become familiar with others, especially when they have unusual textures, tastes or looks.
Make Meals Tastier
Most parents keep their toddlers’ meals really simple, but you’d be surprised how well many kids respond when you add flavor to their snacks.
Let them try sauces, mild spices and herbs and discover what they like and what they don’t.
Some experts suggest you need to expose a toddler to a new food 8-15 times before they will eat it. So, it pays to be persistent.
Keep offering your child new foods, and preparing them for the rest of your family, and they may soon change their minds!