Guest Post: Three Ways to Encourage Your Child to Eat New Foods

I am so excited to share this guest post with you today while I am waiting on baby to arrive. (Today is my due date!) This post is from Jeana Kinne, an Early Childhood Development Specialist. She has packed in a TON of great advice here. I really enjoyed reading about child feeding from the view of an early childhood educator. I know you will, too!

Mealtime can be challenging for families with young children, especially families with children that are “picky” eaters. The trick to surviving mealtime is to have consistent mealtime expectations, while also providing an environment that makes mealtime fun. If mealtime feels like a chore or is filled with negative experiences, children will learn to do their best to avoid mealtime. When introducing foods to young children, it is important that another adult is eating with the child. This allows the child to see another person eat a variety of foods and enjoys them.

Why does my child respond by turning their head or throwing food on the floor?

If you have a child that refuses to try certain foods, make sure the child doesn’t have any food allergies. Sometimes children feel funny after eating certain foods that can trigger a type of food sensitivity or food allergy. Food sensitivities can produce a variety of symptoms that may include a significant allergic reaction, an upset stomach, constipation or gas. It’s always important to speak to the child’s pediatrician if they’re avoiding certain foods on a regular basis. Check this website for foods that can trigger common childhood allergies.

When introducing new foods to young children, make sure the child is able to bite, chew and swallow successfully. Before introducing a new food to the child, ask yourself: Is the food too chewy? Too hard to bite? Too spicy? These are all important characteristics of foods to consider before introducing it to a child. It may take multiple exposures of the same food before a child will put it in their mouth, or try it for a second time. After trying a new food, it may take up to twenty more introductions, of the same food, before the child feels comfortable adding it to their usual repertoire.

Eating should be a pleasurable experience. It’s important to remember that adults have food preferences also. Allowing a child to have input on foods they place in their body helps them to process their feelings about the food, in turn creating a positive connection with a food item. Some foods have different textures: slimy, crunchy, cold, hot, spicy, etc. When a child touches food with their hands, they’re investigating that food, learning about texture and smell before they place it in their mouth. Eating uses all of the senses (taste, touch, sight, smell and sometimes sound (crunchy). Allowing children time to investigate new foods will help children understand the properties of each food item and determine what they expect when they place it in their mouth.

Choices are key when creating a positive eating environment. If a family is having two vegetables, pasta, a salad and meat for dinner, allow the child to pick which vegetable they would like to have on their plate. Choices allow children to feel as though they were able to have some type of input into what they will be placing in their body. It’s not recommended to let a child choose a food item that the rest of the family is not eating.

Three ways to encourage your child to try new foods

  1. Create Age-Appropriate Mealtime Rules.

    Here are some examples:

  • The child will sit at the table with the rest of the family, engaging in conversation with no technology/screen time.
  • Feed the child the same foods the rest of the family is eating.
  • Allow the child to use their hands and other senses to investigate new foods.
  • While eating, the child must stay seated in their highchair/chair.
  • All food must stay at the table.
  • Allowing the child to have one spot they sit at during each meal allows the child to build visual boundaries regarding movement during mealtime

 

  1. Introduce New Foods Slowly.

  • Allow the child to use a spoon to scoop how much of the new food they want on their plate.
  • Allow the child to touch the food and place it in their mouth at their own pace.
  • Don’t force the child to eat the new food. Once they taste it, ask them what they think about it and offer more.
  • If the child says no thank you, leave the food on their plate and allow them to revisit it later.
  • Re-introduce the same food two or three more times during the same week.

 

  1. Allow Your Child to have some control.

    Children like to have control of new situations, including mealtime. Here are some ways to allow a child to control their food:

  • Allow the child to pick where the food on their plate should be placed.
  • Allow the child to decide how many scoops of certain foods are placed on their plate.
  • Allow the child to pick the type and color of plates/cups/silverware.
  • Allow the child to take breaks throughout their meal.

Remember, children thrive on routine and consistency! Make sure that mealtime rules are followed at every meal. Food is exciting, creative and overwhelming sensory experience! Be patient with your kids as you enter into a world of taste, touch and smells!


About JDEducational Learning Series

Three Ways to Encourage Your Child to Eat New Foods | mamaknowsnutrition.com

Interested in helping your child learn a variety of academic skills while preparing food, eating meals and while you are eating out at restaurants? Jeana created simple learning activities that meet Current Preschool and Kindergarten Readiness Standards using items you already have at home! View our curriculum at www.jdeducational.com.


About Jeana Kinne, Early Childhood Developmental Specialist

Three Ways to Encourage Your Child to Eat New Foods | mamaknowsnutrition.com

Children engage with the world in a magical way, sharing their excitement with everyone around them. As soon I set foot in the toddler classroom on my college campus, I knew I wanted my career to include working with preschoolers. I have been a Preschool Director, Behavior Specialist and currently work with Infants/Toddlers with special needs. My work experience has taught me that no matter if a child is typically developing, or has some developmental delays, a parent’s engagement in their child’s daily lives directly correlates with their child’s academic and social progress. I wanted to find a way to help all children and families play, learn and grow! Hence, JDEducational was born! I hope that by completing the JDEducational Curriculum and reading our blog posts, parents will feel empowered to create, explore, teach and experience their child’s love for learning.

1 Comment

  1. WellRoundedMom says:

    Great guest post! I especially agree with the rule of kids eating the same things as the rest of the family. The only time my kids get anything slightly different is when I make something extra spicy, since my youngest still eats with his hands. And in that case, I just take some out and set it aside before adding the final spice!

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