“Try it, you’ll like it!”

Sometimes it’s a struggle to get children to try new foods. It seems they decide they don’t like something before they even try it. Here are a few suggestions for getting a child of any age to try new foods.

Role modeling: Make sure that you are trying the new food too. If a child sees you eating it, then it reassures them that it’s ok.

Offer familiar foods with new foods: You don’t want to overwhelm the child by offering just something new. Add a new food to a familiar meal so it sparks a little curiosity but doesn’t become the focus of the meal. Plus, if the child doesn’t eat the new food, there’s still plenty to fill that little tummy.

Make food fun: Encourage children to eat new foods because super heroes eat those foods, or describe broccoli as trees and have them pretend they’re dinosaurs who eat the “trees”.

Get children involved: Allow children to participate in meal planning and preparation–the chef always has to taste his or her creations.

Encourage new foods: Allow a child to eat what they like and just encourage (not force) the new foods. If children understand that they will not be forced to eat something new, they will be more willing to try things.

Repeated Exposure: The average person allows a child to try a food 3-5 times before deciding they don’t like it. Research shows that, when introducing a new food, we need to offer it 8-15 times before a child will accept it. Repeated exposure is the name of the game.

Keep in mind that toddlers and preschoolers experience “food jags”, meaning the child refuses to eat a food they previously liked or will only eat a very limited number of specific foods. This is normal; but during a “food jag”, continue to offer a wide variety of foods and, in time, it will pass.