Your Picky Eater: 7 Easy Ways to Help Them Try Something New

Posted by in No-Cry Picky Eater

Is your child unwilling to taste a new food? A picky eater must be exposed to something new as many as ten to fifteen times before even tasting it! Children trust familiar things in their lives and are often suspicious of something new and different—this applies to food too. A food that has an unusual appearance, color, smell, or texture can be off-putting to a young child. That’s why repeated exposure helps. Eventually the unusual food becomes familiar, and at that point, the child becomes open to the idea of tasting it and giving it a fair evaluation. Knowing these facts gives us insight into how to introduce new foods and what to expect when we do. Here are a few tips.

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1. First, Prioritize

Look at your child’s overall diet to determine if it’s healthy. If your child is getting foods from all the food groups and enough nutrition to be healthy, don’t fret over some pickiness. Decide WHY it’s important to you that your child try this new food. Your child shouldn’t have to try everything at once. Relax a bit and when the pressure is off you’ll likely see more success.

2. Teeny-tiny Bit for Your Picky Eater

Begin by putting a tiny bit of the new food—such as two chickpeas or one Brussels sprout—on your child’s plate along with regular favorites. Don’t expect him to eat it, and don’t make a comment if he pulls it apart, smells it, or smashes it. Allow the experimentation to occur—it’s the first step to acceptance. If you’ve displayed the new food on your child’s plate eight to ten times and he still hasn’t eaten any, then gently encourage your picky eater to take “just one bite.”

3. Unfamiliar becomes Familiar

Pick one or two new foods at a time and put one on your child’s plate three or four times per week for several months. When he sees it enough times he’ll eventually give it a taste.

4.  Monkey See – Monkey Do

~Let your child observe you eating the new food. Mention to your spouse or a friend that you enjoy the food so that your child hears your comment. Studies tell us that when children are certain their parents or other important people in their lives really like a food (not just eat it out of duty, but actually enjoy it, they decide it’s a good thing to try for themselves.

Melissa, mother of of five-year-old Brenna, four-year-old Gianni, two-year-old Giulio, and nine-month-old Brydie shares her idea: “To introduce my kids to some new foods, I create a food treasure hunt. I have the kids play in their room so I can put out the food and make a map to each place with clues to the next food spot. They don’t get the next clue unless they try the food at each spot. I try to have only two new or not-so-keen-on foods along with about three things they do like along the way. The treasure at the end is dessert!”

5. Show an Example for Your Picky Eater to Follow

If you are eating with another adult, offer that person a taste of the new food. Ask her in advance to try it willingly and declare it tasty. When a child sees someone else being adventurous, he may be more willing to do so himself.

6. Make it an Appetizer

After your child has tried the food and found it at least minimally acceptable (meaning he doesn’t spit it out or gag on it!), try putting it out as an appetizer before dinner is served. If your child is hungry, and it’s the first thing offered, he may actually eat a bite or two.

7. Be Patient and Persistent with Your Picky Eater

It may take a while, but in time your picky eater will expand their menu. The less pressure you create, the more likely you’ll have some success.

Catherine, mother to eight-year-old Ben tells her tale: “I put kale on his plate and put kale on his plate and put kale on his plate. My son tried it and grimaced, and we praised him for trying it. Pages flew off the calendar, and his beard grew down to the floor, and then one day he ate it without comment. And then one day he ate it and said, ‘This is actually not as bad as I thought.’ After which a pair of bluebirds draped the banner of joy around my shoulders!”

Find more tips in The No-Cry Picky Eater Solution.

Related post: Eat Out With Your Kids and Have Fun Doing It

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