Did you know that it takes a child 10 to 15 times of trying a food before their taste buds will develop a taste for it? When children taste things for the first time, it is almost like a package deal—they use their sense of smell and visual cues from others to determine what they are going to eat.
I’ll never forget three nights in a row when my five-year-old son would say “yuck!” really loud, the moment he got to the kitchen table. By doing this, he set the tone for my other two children, ages four and two, who then would respond with the same reaction or they wouldn’t even touch their food.
Mama, I totally understand some of the struggles with getting your toddlers and children to actually try or eat the food that you give them. You are not alone.
I’ve learned a few things that have helped our family develop some healthy eating habits.
Tips for Helping Your Kids Try (and Eat!) New Foods
Does your child sit and tell you how hungry they are while you’re making dinner?
My children started doing this at a very young age. Around 12 months of age, I noticed they would be at my feet whining while I was making dinner; most of the time, giving them food seemed to help.
So, we started cooking or cutting up our vegetables prior to dinner. We discovered that it helped to offer the kids a choice: either eat the vegetables before dinner or wait to eat until dinner was ready.
The “I’m starving” and “I can’t wait for dinner” complaints became less frequent, and by the time dinner was at the table, I knew they had already eaten something healthy. (We don't use this as an excuse for them to refuse to eat the rest of their dinner, but depending on what is served, I may be a little more lenient on how much they eat of everything else).
“I don’t want my food like that!”
This one takes a little getting used to.
I know that I don’t want to “cater” to each of my four children’s needs when it comes to meals, (because we all know, we would never get to sit down and eat ourselves!), but what if we asked them how they want their food?
For example, do they want their corn on top of their mashed potatoes? What would they like gravy on?
Sometimes even making our plates first so our children can see what is for dinner and how we eat our food can help them make their decisions easier (we all know our kids want what we have).
Also, it helps to remember our own little quirks when it comes to eating food. I don’t like my food to touch, so I may have three different bowls in front of me; whereas my husband will have it all mixed together on a plate.
“I’m not hungry!”
This can be a tricky one because sometimes we know our child really is hungry, yet they just don’t want what we are serving.
When we all sit down at the table and a child says they are not hungry, it usually sets the tone for the rest of my children. So, our family has created dinner time as a time to connect and talk about our day. Even though my children are still young (four children ages five and under), we still find ways to engage in conversation or tell stories.
More solutions to the "I'm not hungry!" complaint: CLICK HERE to continue reading.