|Written by Beth Weston|
Intro: As the mother of a finicky eater, I have learned to be creative in my ways of trying to get him to try new foods. It is not always easy and quite frankly, I don't always win but he has come very far in what he will eat than where he was a few short years ago. It hasn't been one trick to get him to try foods such as watermelon, fish, and broccoli but several. If you have a finicky eater ... I hope this article helps you to help your child try new foods.
Step 1: Start young. I wish I had been more persistent when my son was younger with introducing new foods. But, sometimes you get busy and rush along your day and throw McDonald's down - never thinking of the habits you are instilling. Start as young as you can by introducing fruits and vegetables to your child. Don't sugar coat anything but allow your child to taste the flavor of that particular food. He may not like everything but won't ever be able to say he didn't try it.
Step 2: Be persistent. It takes a child about five times of trying a food to start to like it if they are not sure about that particular food. Keep putting it down in front of your child and having him at least try a little bit. At this point, it's not about clearing your plate so much as trying what's on it.
Step 3: Challenge your child. Of course, I mean this as a game but challenge your child to eat the food. Say something, "I bet you can't eat three pieces of chicken!" or "I bet you can't eat more watermelon than Mommy." Everyone has a competitive nature, even children, and may think the game is fun and will put more of those good foods into him than he even realizes.
Step 4: Make it funny. You can't always be a clown at dinner, but sometimes, making the food silly or acting funny when eating it, makes a child want to do the same. Dip strawberries in whipped cream and dab some on your nose or something silly like that. The point is that the child eats the strawberry.
Step 5: Bring in an outside influence. Years ago, my oldest son would not eat chicken. However, when my older brother, who my son viewed as a real-life GI Joe, said, "Hey Matt, tough guys eat chicken," suddenly my son wanted chicken all the time so he could be tough like his Uncle.
Step 6: Think outside of the box. My son would only eat a banana if it was all white. Any slight discoloration and he would turn up his nose. One day, I said to him, "oh that's too bad you won't eat your banana because of that little spot ... that's the sweet spot." Next thing I knew, he wanted bananas with sweet spots. Sneaky, I know, but it worked.
Step 7: When all else fails ... puree the foods you want your child to eat and sneak them into foods your child will eat. Foods like spaghetti can really be livened up with pureed vegetables. Smoothies take on a sweet flavor when adding in some fresh or frozen fruit. You can also have your child help you make the smoothies, which is fun and gets him working with good foods.
Tips: Be patient. It took me 38 years to start to like tomatoes. Taste buds do change as you get older and what your child refuses to eat at 4 years old may sound delicious at 13.
Warning: Don't be mean about your child trying new foods. Some eating disorders are caused by over-bearing parents making a child eat something. If you are that concerned, fortify their diet with vitamins and ease off on pushing your point of having them try something new ... for the 100th time.