Lindsey is a soon-to-be nutritionist and busy mum of two. In this article, she shares her Top 3 Tips to try with fussy eaters, with the goal of getting your little ones to try new foods.
Introducing kids to new foods doesn’t only have to happen at the dinner table while they’re eating a meal. There are many different places where kids can learn to love food, and it’s important to mix things up a bit.
Sometimes, simply interacting and playing with food in various places, with no pressure to eat it, can be a great way for kids to gain exposure to something that might normally overwhelm them. And some of the most valuable opportunities for learning to love food and trying new ingredients, are waiting in places you may not have thought of!
Try these easy tips:
The Snake Taste Test
Get children away from the dinner table and have them sit somewhere fun such as outdoors. Have them use their senses by talking with you about what different foods smell, look, feel and sound like. A fun way to ease in to exploring what it TASTES like, is using my favourite trick: the “snake taste”! Have them stick out their tongue like a snake does, just to give the food it a little taste. Do this without pressuring them to do so. This is a fun way to explore the food if they want to. Remember, the goal isn’t to get them to eat the food; just to have a fun, positive experience with it. This removes the fear of the unknown from the food, and gets them to relax around this food and hopefully one day, try it.
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SNAKE TASTE 🐍 This little tip has honestly made such an impact on my kiddies! When we have food that they might not want to try, we talk about it in other ways using all their senses (what does it smell/look/feel/sound like?) and then if they are feeling up to it – just give a little “snake taste” to see what it tastes like (stick out their tongue like a snake 😆). Making it fun takes the pressure off and even just a simple “snake taste” is a HUGE step! ANY positive interaction with food is a win – not just when they actually eat it! So next time you’re feeling stressed at the dinner table, try the “snake taste”. Do it yourself, act silly and it really does help to take the stress away! 🤪 ((I didn’t actually think she was going to do it with this Brussel sprout, I had just given it to her to have a look at but then she started doing that as it’s something I often encourage. Then she started getting closer to putting it in her mouth but I took it away because obviously big choking hazard! She didn’t eat it once cooked but at least had a positive experience with it and who knows, maybe she’ll try it next time!)) 🌱
Letting them actually help in the kitchen (rather than just watch)
Get them measuring, mixing or chopping food with kid-safe knives. It helps children create a positive experience with food, as well as increases and develops confidence and important fine motor skills. When we are short on time (or patience!) it can even be as simple as handing them some of the food as you prep it, and just letting them explore it and interact with it.
Grocery shopping WITH them
Those times that you aren’t rushed or trying to fill a whole trolley during a big shop, take a second to stop and check out some food that may be new to them. Let them pick out a new fruit or vegetable and find a way to prepare it together. Even if it’s something you know they usually don’t eat, let them explore it.
Hopefully, these tips provide you with a few more tricks up your sleeve. Focusing on the positives and taking the pressure off, means that kids will be more likely to try new foods in the future. Yes, of course it would be great if they would just eat all their veggies right now, but slowing down and focusing on encouraging them learn to like food in their own time is such an important part of helping our little ones try new foods, increase their variety, and develop healthy relationships with food in the long run.