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Encouraging children to try different foods

encouraging children to try different food
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As adults we all know what a healthy and balanced diet should look like. However, encouraging children to try different foods is not always easy. Some are just naturally picky, while others can be scared of trying new tastes. Here are a few simple tips that should make mealtimes a more pleasant experience.

Make it fun

A small child can become overwhelmed if you place a big plate of new food in front of them. Instead encourage them to try small pieces of new flavours. Play a game with them away from the usual dinner routine and see if they can guess what each item is. Maybe do this while cooking the family meal or have a lunchtime where you put a range of different foods out.

Mix it up

At each meal time have a good mix of flavours on the plate. Introduce one or two new items at a time, along with foods you know they’ll like. This way they will always have something to eat, without you having to resort to making something different. The aim is to get them to try a bit of everything before they finish the meal. Don’t force them if they don’t appear to like it, as encouraging them to try new tastes is key. Some children will need to eat something 10 to 15 times before they develop a taste for it.

Ask questions

If there is something new that they don’t like or have really enjoyed ask them why that is. When they weren’t keen on a flavour, see if it was too sweet, salty or spicy for them. This will enable you to get an idea of the tastes they prefer and provide inspiration for what to try them with next.

Start early

Encouraging children to try different foodThe earlier you begin introducing a variety of tastes and flavours to a child, the more diverse their palate will be and the better they’ll become at experimenting. Young children always have a tendency for sweet foods, as formula and breast milk are both sweet. If they’re used to trying new things, this should stay with them as they grow up. There will be some children who have a fussy period, even if they’ve always been good eaters. However, by staying calm and continuing to offer a range of foods, they will hopefully get back to their old ways.

Get them cooking

It’s important that children understand what goes into the meals they eat, as this will enable them to become self sufficient and lead a healthier adult life. By bringing them into the kitchen when you’re cooking, it provides a great opportunity for them to try small bits of the foods you’re adding. If possible, grow your own vegetables, so that they can see how easy it is and the end results. Anything that feeds a child’s interest in cooking and healthy eating will be of benefit.

Set a good example

There’s no point trying to encourage a child to be more adventurous if you’re not yourself. Lead by example and make sure they see you trying a variety of tastes and flavours. Make a conscious effort to eat something new or a food that you don’t really like to show them how much fun it can be.

Living with a picky eater can make mealtimes stressful. It’s important not to make this into a big issue and continue introducing new tastes, as you’ll eventually get to something that they enjoy.

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About Catherine Stern

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About Catherine Stern

Catherine Stern is a freelance writer with a background in marketing and PR. She currently writes web content on a range of subjects, from finance and business to travel and home improvements. As a working single mum of two young boys she understands the pressures that today’s working parents face and the topics they want to read about.

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