Getting your kids to try new foods, especially foods that are good for them, can be one of the biggest sources of stress during their early years. Many parents worry about what their kids are eating, but it doesn’t need to be a challenge to introduce new, healthy foods if you make it fun. Here are a few ways to successfully get your children to eat new foods that nurture their growth.
1. Invite them to help with food preparation
All kids, even the picky eaters, are always more willing to try food they help to make. You can start with meals that kids can put together themselves, such as sandwiches and pizza. Give them a selection of familiar toppings as well as foods they aren’t familiar with, such as red peppers, tomatoes, or mushrooms. Each time, encourage them to add something new and colorful to their meal. Get inspired by our series Cooking And Baking with Kids.
2. Show them where food comes from
Teaching your kids where their food comes from will help them make healthier decisions as they grow. While they’re still young, it also gives them greater interest in trying fresh foods. Try taking your kids to the local farmer’s market or even a local farm. Take them to pick berries and start a vegetable garden at home to tempt your kids into trying the food they’ve lovingly grown themselves.
3. Be their role model
Make sure your kids see you enjoying healthy snacks and home-cooked meals instead of junk food. If you aren’t eating healthy, they will have no desire to eat healthy either. Snack on healthy foods throughout the day and offer them some of your own food. If they see you enjoying it, they are more likely to want to it try it too.
4. Make it fun
Don’t be afraid to get creative and have fun when you introduce new foods to your children. Make whole-grain or pumpkin pancakes and invite your kids to add smiley faces with blueberries and strawberries. Research has even found that giving vegetables silly or catchy names makes kids more likely to give them a try. For example, you can rename carrots as “X-ray vision carrots” or call broccoli “baby trees.” Get inspired by some of our creative meals for kids.
5. Mix up the familiar
A good way to get kids accustomed to new flavors is to combine them with foods that are already familiar with. For example, you can introduce new vegetables on their favorite pizza. You can also introduce familiar foods with unfamiliar flavors like chipotle chicken sausages from Joyce Farms. Your kids probably already like sausage, whether it’s grilled, added to a stir-fry, or even put in bun like a hot dog.
Healthy snacks during the holidays
The holidays are a time when kids will be filling up on sugary treats. From Halloween to New Year’s, there are so many opportunities for fun treats and snacks. It’s easy to go overboard, however. Don’t let the holidays be an excuse to eat poorly. You can get your kids involved in making healthy snacks that they like to munch on. You can even make it an activity your kids will love. For example, you can use peanut butter as “glue” to make Halloween spiders. You can use pretzels for the legs, raisins for the eyes, etc. When you have healthy snacks around during the holidays, they will feel less inclined to eat all the extra sugar. Get inspired by some of our healthy desserts.
No matter which strategy you try, be sure to introduce new foods slowly and let your kids get used to a new flavor before you introduce something else. Don’t get frustrated when your child doesn’t enjoy something right away; it will only increase their resistance. Find an approach that works for you and your child to broaden their horizons and help them expand their appreciation for a greater variety of foods that will support their health throughout their life.