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Tips for encouraging kids to try new foods?

I have an almost 3 year old daughter. As a baby & young child, she ate ANYTHING! Every type of baby food, everything I'd cut up and put on her high chair tray (chicken, pork chops, broccoli, etc.)

For about 6mos- a year ago, she has been VERY picky. She loved chicken nuggets, didn't like them, now loves them again. Was obsessed with mac & cheese, now will not touch it. Loved pasta, screams at the sight of it, you get the point.
Dinners are stressful and I'm at a loss. We just want her to try foods. She won't even take a bite unless she recognizes what it is. She does eat some fruit & healthy snacks, and healthy breads, and breakfasts, but at dinner she wants the same thing all the time.
We refuse to be the parents who make different meals at dinner time, but we want to be positive & eliminate the stress that comes every night at the dinner table.
So I'm wondering if you've found any positive way to encourage your children to try what is on their plate. (FYI-she clamps her mouth shut and screams) Thank you so much.

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Asked by tmp1283 at 10:18 PM on Jan. 9, 2013 in Preschoolers (3-4)

Level 6 (119 Credits)
Answers (5)
  • There was a famous pediatrician (Can't think of his name now) but he said simply offer them food. He said it may take up to 15 times to get them to try it but keep offering. You could do what Jerry Seinfeld's wife does and that's puree good food and hide it in the foods your dd will eat. Sometimes we just have to outsmart kids! Many of the foods kids love are full of sugar. Many of them simply taste good. Just make sure she gets calcium. You can always supplement with vitamins if it bothers you but she'll be fine. Kids learn by example. Let her watch you and dad enjoy your food. You could even try overreacting about how good it is to get her curiosity up.

    Answer by admckenzie at 10:48 PM on Jan. 9, 2013

  • From the time ours were old enough to eat at the table they knew the rules. They are to try it at least once, if they don't like it, then they eat what they do like. They know it's not a restaurant, they eat what I make, or they go to bed hungry. I haven't ever had to send our boys to bed hungry. They have always tried, and eaten what I have made for Breakfast, lunch, and supper. They know they eat what they take, and that's the rules.
    If you make it clear what's expected out of your children it's pretty simple. It's always worked for us (thankfully). We don't give too many options, then they don't know what to do, or choose.

    Answer by MrsLeftlane at 10:59 PM on Jan. 9, 2013

  • Sometimes I've found that pairing familiar foods with new ones makes the new foods more appealing. I wanted my daughter to try some ham and bean soup the other day, so I served it with some side finger foods--fruit, olives, corn chips--and she ate a good helping of the soup because she was enjoying the other things.

    Answer by Ballad at 11:41 PM on Jan. 9, 2013

  • Don't accommodate. You fix them a plate. You encourage them to eat it. If they eat it fabulous. If they don't, well, they will be all the more hungry for the next meal. It my house by age three you had to eat a little of everything to get more of what you really liked. But honestly just offering new foods and not giving in and making second meals makes all the difference in the world. Now if youa re dealing with texture issues...that is MUCH trickier.

    Answer by But_Mommie at 11:43 PM on Jan. 9, 2013

  • Keep offering the foods you make. And accept her decisions about what goes into her mouth (including IF something from her plate does) & about how much.
    I believe those two perspectives (being very aware of what you're in charge of, and what she's in charge of), combined, will help set up an ultimately positive dynamic.
    Take care to offload your tensions & frustrations around the issue to someone else who can listen without giving advice, and without treating your frustration like a problem to "solve" or "fix." (What you are trying to do with this is shed--by sharing--the worries & fears that drive parents to get controlling, and that interfere with being responsive rather than reactive to children. So when needed, find a way to be heard.)
    I have 3 kids who were adventurous eaters as babies & toddlers, then got more resistant. With my younger 2 (twins) I was better able to weather that time without injecting struggle/conflict.

    Answer by girlwithC at 11:59 AM on Jan. 10, 2013

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