When you have kids, many areas can prove to be challenging – including areas you hadn’t anticipated to be quite so hard. We all know that learning to walk, talk, potty train, and similar tasks are going to be challenges that we help our little ones through. But others can take us by surprise. Encouraging our kids to try and eat new foods tends to be one of these. Kids tend to like what they know and, as parents, we may not notice that we habituate our little ones to the things we like ourselves. When it comes to food, children can be used to the same meals repeatedly, which, while completely healthy and fine, can make them wary about trying foods outside of their current knowledge and comfort zone. But what can you do to help introduce your little ones to different ingredients and cuisines? Here are some tips that will help you along the way.
Introducing Your Kids to New Foods
Forcing your child to try something that they say they don’t want to try isn’t the best way to go about things. Even if the food tastes good to them, they’re going to associate the experience with doing something against their will and, consequently, negative emotions.
Instead, offer them food and let it go if they don’t want to try it. Over time, they may grow curious and seek out these new foods to try or be more likely to try them when you offer them. It’s also important to avoid punishments for not trying new food, such as “you don’t leave the table until your plate is empty”. There’s never any reason a child has to like a specific food.
Introduce New Foods With Old
One new element of a meal is much easier to get your head around than a whole new meal. Try introducing new foods with old favorites.
For example, if your little one likes to eat a lot of bananas, try serving up a few pieces of kiwi or a slice of melon alongside their banana. They are more likely to pick up the new food when they also see something that they’re familiar with and know they enjoy.
Show Your Child You Enjoying the Food
Kids tend to trust things more when they can see their parents enjoying them. If you eat the food in front of them with a big smile or talk about how delicious it is, they’re more likely to give it a go themselves. Whether that’s an easy shrimp stir fry, a dragon fruit, or an anchovy.
Give Indicators of What the Food Is Like
If your child is old enough to understand you, you should make sure to prepare them for what they are about to try. Sometimes, the element of surprise or shock that comes with unexpected tastes of textures can put kids off trying anything. Compare the food to items you know they’ve already tried. Describe spiciness, texture, saltiness, sweetness, and more.
Remember that the world is still new to children and trying new things can be daunting, including new foods. The steps above should help you to get things rolling by encouraging them to try new things out!