Image from http://betterkidcare.psu.edu
Lots of parents ask me how do you get your child to try new foods? or how do you teach good eating habits? Also, why does my toddler not like food s/he use to like? I have a few suggestions, that I have learned from readings, and other sources.
First, lets start with good eating habits. If you would like your child to eat good food, offer them good food from the beginning. When they are learning to eat offer healthy fresh foods. If you are able, you can create your own home made foods such as banana’s, green beans, spinach and make puree’s.
Another great thing to do is model the foods you want them to eat. Show them good eating habits at the dinner table, prepare good foods, only take proper portions and offer your child a bit of each food, even if they have refused it in the past. New food is scary. When it comes to dessert, that is ok, but teach your child,you can have sweets, but in portion control like everything else.
If your child, says “I’m done, or I’m full.” Do not force them to eat all of the food on their plate. This promotes childhood obesity and can lead food and eating disorders later in life. Simple ask if they would like to try one more bite if they say no say “Ok, we will save your plate for you if you get hungry later” put a cover on it, pop it in the fridge, and save it for later.
By allowing your child to stop, and come back to their plate later, enstills a healthier eating habit than forcing 3 meals a day only. Many doctors are suggestion for adults and children, light snacking (of healthy foods) and lighter meals (also healthy) can help regulate metabolism, heart rates and cholesterol.
Now lets talk about getting your child to try new foods. As I mentioned above new foods are scary. So when you introduce new foods to your toddler and preschooler, do it like you did when they were a baby, one new food at a time.
How you do this is: when you prepare your child’s meal make a plate, full of food that they already know and love. Add a small portion of the new food you want your child to try. They may not like it, may not even try it this first time (hence a small portion) offer it to them a few times a week. Then periodically, Eventually, your child will grow curious of this thing on their plate, they will first taste it, then eventually they may eat it all up.
If they don’t like it at first, not to worry they may come around.
This last suggestion is a great one to use if your toddler suddenly becomes picky and will only eat certain foods. My son use to love to eat fruits and veggies, he turned 2 and only ate carbs. I “introduced” foods on his plate that he use to eat regularly and he began to sample them again.
Also parents, keep in mind, tastes change for everyone over time. They do for your growing child, and they do for you.
Best to remember, keep good food in the house, practice by example food moderation, allow light healthy snacking and introduce foods one at a time with foods they already love.