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Trying New Foods

Letting young children explore new foods when they are ready makes trying new foods less scary. It can help when new foods appeal to children’s senses (fun shapes, colors and smells).

Help children explore:

  • Textures, like fuzzy kiwis and mushy avocados
  • Tastes, like sour apples and sweet melons
  • Colors, like red peppers and orange sweet potatoes
  • Sounds, like crunchy jicama, celery and apples

Letting children of all ages make choices:

  • Instead of asking “what would you like to eat?” which lets the child make all of the food decisions, a better way is for parents to determine what foods they are willing to offer the child to eat and offer a few choices.
  • Offer younger children two choices, while older children can be offered 2 or more choices.
  • Offering choices helps children learn how to make decisions and gives them a sense of control. This helps develop their sense of autonomy and confidence in their ability to make independent decisions when their parents are not present.
  • Offering choices helps families have pleasant meal and snack times, because parents are offering foods they have on hand and children like making their own selections.

Use of “covert” controls that structure the environment to help children make good choices:

  • Use the division of responsibility to guide child feeding: http://ellynsatterinstitute.org/dor/divisionofresponsibilityinfeeding.php
  • Avoid restaurants without healthy options.
  • Buy foods that give children a variety of healthy choices for snacks.
  • Avoid bringing unhealthy treat foods into the house on a regular basis. Save them for special occasions.
  • Limiting their own (and other adults in the household) consumption of unhealthy foods. This will help reduce the temptation to have them in the house and having to actively limit children’s access to them.
  • Structure routine snack and mealtimes to make sure children are hungry for meals. Give at least one hour or more in between snack and mealtimes.