I know what it's like to get into a rut of buying and preparing the same foods all the time.
I know how hard it can be to get motivated to introduce your kiddo to some new foods.
I know that sometimes it can feel overwhelming when you want to introduce your child to new foods but don't know how to go about it.
By the end of winter, I am really missing the days of fresh summer produce and I find myself always shopping for, preparing, and cooking the same foods.
Day after day.
I love introducing new foods to my kids but sometimes it's hard to find the motivation, especially if they aren't willing to try it.
That is why I want to challenge you (and myself) to get out of the rut and help your little one try new foods!
Note: this isn't about getting your child to eat something, but rather an inspiration to introduce something new and some guidance on how to offer it to avoid scaring your child away from the newness.
So let's go through the steps of helping your child try new foods.
Pick your new food
The first step is to make a decision about what you are going to offer. Just setting the intention of including something new on your child's plate or adding a new item to the grocery basket can be a helpful first step.
So which foods to choose?
Maybe your toddler is already totally cool with sauerkraut, or your baby is still in the "honeymoon phase" of eating everything you put in front of them, or your preschooler won't touch a single thing that isn't beige.
Start where your own child is at, when choosing a new food to introduce.
Here are some ideas.
If your child tends to be a pretty adventurous eater, try to pick something they have never tried before, like:
purple carrots (serve cooked or grated for kids under age 4)
lychee (slice pulp into long, thin strips)
blood orange (remove the membrane for kids under 4)
fermented cabbage (sauerkraut)
chia seed pudding
crickets (yes, you can get these at many grocery stores)
If your child is more apprehensive about new foods and likely won't give a taste if it is too unusual, stick with foods with a similar taste/texture as what they are used to - with a slight variation.
if your child likes red pepper, try green
if they like cucumber, try spiralized zucchini
if they will mostly only eat crackers, try changing the brand or type
pasta lovers might be willing to try legume pasta
if they like peas, try edamame
Setting up for Success
Pick a time when your child will likely be a bit hungry
Either a meal when they typically participate (i.e. don't choose breakfast if they usually don't like to eat first thing in the morning)
Right before dinner, while you are prepping - this is the time many kiddos are starting to get antsy to eat and are more willing to try something new
If you are serving the food with a meal:
include something in the meal your child will usually eat (even if it means serving bread alongside the main dish) - this will help reduce any pressure on your child to eat
serve the food on their plate, separated from the other foods, but also offer a plate on the side where they can place the food if they don't want to try
If you are serving the food at a snack or while prepping dinner:
offer a small taste to your child while they are sitting in a safe place (doesn't have to be the table but make sure they aren't going to be running or lying down while eating)
Tell your child what the food is, then taste it yourself.
Do NOT mention the food or put any pressure on your child to try it! I'm serious. Don't encourage them to have "just one bite" or to give it a little taste - this won't work and will probably scare them away. Just offer them the food and keep quiet about it.
If your child asks about the food, explain objectively what it is. "this is purple carrot" avoid any mention of "yummy" or "healthy" this adds unnecessary pressure.
Keep in mind, some kids don't like to be filmed while they are trying new food and this can deter them from tasting. My kids are pretty used to it now but you know your own kiddo best - think before taking any pictures or videos of how they will respond
What to do about "yuck!"?
You might be wondering: "what do I do if my child says "yuck"?
Here are some things to consider:
Usually, it is best not to make a "scene" about it. Children are little scientists and love to see what happens when they use words that trigger us.
Try to be matter-of-fact about any boundaries you have around certain words, just ignore the word, or validate their taste experience by asking them what they didn't love about the taste
"do you find it salty/bitter/sour?"(and yes, your child might respond "I find it yucky")
When your kiddo doesn't like the food right away, keep introducing it in a low-pressure way over time - eventually, they might come around to it! Don't write off olives forever just because they weren't a hit on the first try. And definitely don't proclaim "you don't like olives" whenever they are offered, tastes change all the time.
Trying sweet foods
There is no reason why tastings always need to be vegetables or bizarre foods, sometimes trying foods that you expect your child to enjoy can actually help them feel more comfortable with the food.
We still want to keep things low pressure. Getting overly excited about a food or talking it up as a "treat" or "really special" can sometimes backfire, either leading your child to lose interest in tasting it or fixate on it.
Be mindful of staying neutral and objective about food, even when they are something more sweet or enjoyable.
For a simple cheat sheet for building toddler snacks (with 20 different toddler friendly snack examples) subscribe to the Nourished Nest Nutrition newsletter for the free Toddler Snack Builder download.
Want more support?
If you want to join a really awesome community of parents and caregivers raising toddlers to have a healthy relationship with food, The Your Nourished Toddler program includes video modules (with written transcripts) for every question that might come up while feeding your toddler, a very popular recipe book, nutrition and meal planning information, a private facebook group, and guest speaker q&as with toddler experts.
This program is perfect for you if you are a parent and caregiver of a toddler (or soon-to-be toddler) and want to raise your child with a healthy relationship with food and create positive mealtime memories.
You will learn all about creating a positive environment around food and eating, how to create nutritious meals, and how to feel totally confident feeding your toddler.