Sometimes, kids are perfect angels when it comes to eating. They’ll finish meals all on their own and even ask for seconds! However, children are children, and such instances are quite rare. Quite frequently, toddlers and older kids are bribed to try new foods (or food they liked just yesterday but have forgotten about). But getting kids to eat doesn’t have to be so tedious.
Just like other aspects of parenthood, there are tips and tricks that will make your life a whole lot easier. Read on to find out ten great ways to encourage your little ones to try new foods without tears, yelling, or bribery!
10 Compare new foods to foods they already like
The first step you can take when your toddler is turning up their nose at your offering is to talk to them about foods they like. For instance, if they enjoy apples, you can point out that the pear you’re holding has the same crunch and sweet juices inside. Remind them that they absolutely loved apples in the past and that you’re sure they’d love the taste of pears just as much.
Try to include as many mouthwatering details about the food they already like in order to create a good impression of the item that you’re getting them to taste. Most of the time, toddlers will listen to you upon mention of the food that they love and open their mouths!
9 Dress it up
Kids love bright colors and fun shapes, so it could be to your advantage to spice their meal with a little creativity. Try turning those pancakes into a snowman with blueberries for eyes, or stack their apples and peanut butter into a cute little caterpillar chain. Not only is doing this fun and relaxing for you, your little one will surely have more interest in devouring your adorable creations.
Of course, you don’t have to do this with every meal, but it’s a great way to get your kids to fall in love with new foods. With so many online tutorials for cute toddler meals, it’s quick and easy to make this change in your routine.
8 Take the meal outside
Another thing that children love is getting to play outside! When you’re getting kids to try new foods, try a backyard picnic. Not only will the food look more appetizing under the sunlight, but your little one is more likely to be hungry after running around outside.
Even if they’re not extremely interested in the food, you can take the opportunities when they’re distracted by a squirrel or something to sneak bites of food right into their mouth. Most of the time, your kid will chew and swallow, while still distracted, and find that they love the new treat!
7 Offer smaller portions
Sometimes, kids are more likely to be persuaded to try something new in a smaller portion. It makes sense psychologically, too. If you found out that you were expected to eat a bowl full of something you’ve never had before and doesn’t look particularly appetizing, you’d say no, right? Your kids work the same way.
Instead of offering a whole strawberry or a huge bite of pasta, try cutting the portion smaller. With certain foods, you could even have them lick the spoon first. Then, if they’re satisfied with the flavor, introduce the entire thing to them. Children are way more likely to be willing to try unfamiliar foods in this manner, and it saves you from wasting food, too!
6 Let them get hungry first
Frequently, the reason behind children’s pickiness with new food lies in the fact that they’re simply not hungry. When you’re trying to introduce something new to your little one, try to avoid excessive snacking between meals. Often, kids will be more than happy to dig in when they’re actually hungry.
Of course, make sure that your children are eating enough for each meal, but try to time new introductions so that they coincide with when the kids are looking for something to eat. It’s particularly important with picky kids to time the introduction right because unpleasant first impressions will likely stick in their minds.
5 Use their stuffed animals
Many children have imaginary friends, favored stuffed animals, or both! Not only is this an absolutely adorable part of growing up, but it’s also a great opportunity to get your kiddos to try new foods or eat some veggies!
Sometimes, when Teddy is brave enough to try the broccoli, your little one will be too! Tell them that their “friend” finds the item delicious and that they should try it, too. Even if they counter this argument, you can explain that everyone is different and that they might love what Teddy didn’t like so much. Either way, it’s a great way to both partake in your little one’s imagination and coerce them to try new foods without a fight!
4 Let them help out in the garden
A wonderful way to get your kids excited about food is letting them grow it themselves! Gardening is a great way for children to get some fresh air while learning about the wonderful environment. Have them water their plants every day and talk to them about what the harvest will be like. Chances are, your little ones will be stoked at the idea of eating something they grew all on their own.
While the plants are growing, you can also get them to try new foods by comparing them to the upcoming harvest. Not only will they enjoy fresh vegetables more this way, but it also makes for great family bonding time!
3 Take them grocery shopping
If you don’t have prime conditions for gardening, another great option to get your kids excited about trying new foods is to take them to the grocery store. Ask them to help you pick out the ripest tomatoes, the freshest head of lettuce, and the best piece of chicken. Tell them about how you’re going to prepare the chosen items for dinner that night, and try to describe how they’ll taste.
Doing so will ready your children for new foods as well as make them excited to try the product they chose! Chances are, they’ll be more than happy to sample your creations.
2 Try fun plates and silverware
In addition to making the food items look creative, an easier alternative may be to invest in some fun dining equipment. After all, it does seem more fun to eat out of a dinosaur-shaped bowl than a regular boring plate, right? Kids are much more likely to try food when it has a fun aspect, and these dynamic animal-shaped plates and bowls are quite inexpensive and can be easily found online.
Of course, you don’t want your kids to depend on the fun bowls to eat their meals, but it is definitely a great way to get them to try (and hopefully like) new foods.
1 Have them help you cook
Finally, you can bring your kiddos into the kitchen in order to get them excited about new food. You’d be surprised at how well toddlers and little kids can help with some simple cooking tasks! While it’s obvious that they should be kept away from knives and hot surfaces, you can ask your toddler to mash potatoes for you, mix the dough, pour water into a bowl, or even cut veggies with a dull plastic knife.
Not only will this help with the kiddo’s hand-eye coordination and motor skills, but it’ll also get them excited about tasting the dishes they’ve helped create!