Not wanting to try new foods is very common in children. Almost all children go through a period of fussy eating. Have faith that one day your child will eat and enjoy a wide variety of food!
Remember, ‘parents provide, children decide’. Your role is to offer them new foods and it is simply up to your child whether they eat any at all. If they choose not to eat it, that is OK – trust that one day they will.
Pressuring (e.g. bribing. pleading or playing games) a child to eat could make them less likely try new foods and actually make them fussier. What works best is creating a calm, positive and distraction free (i.e. not eating in front of the TV) eating environment.
Here are our 8 top tips to help fussy eaters to try new foods, without pressuring them:
- Role Model. If you eat the food in question, your child is more likely to eat them.
- Include the new food along with other healthy options they do like. At meal or snack time, provide your child with an opportunity to try the food. Research has shown it may take 20+ times of repeated exposure to a food before a child tries it, though parents are likely to give up after 5 attempts – keep going!
- Share your meals together. As much as possible, having family meals, where everyone eats the same foods together, is important. Be sure the meal includes some options that you know they do like.
- Buffet-style serving. Offering food this way lets your child build their independence and have a sense of control over what they eat.
- Create a pressure-free space by role modelling and showing them that it is okay to try again another day. If your child chooses not to try something you can say (and try to believe) “That’s okay, maybe next time!”
- Don’t give too much attention to the new food – remember, pressure-free environment. They may just help themselves!
- Offer a new foods when children are not too tired. If they’ve had a long day, or aren’t feeling well, wait before attempting to introduce the food.
- Involve them. Involve your children in preparing and shopping for meals and choose recipes together.