My top 10 tips for introducing new foods to fussy eaters. Practical steps that you can take to help improve their eating with minimal stress!
Feeding kids can be really hard work, there’s no denying it. Trying to get them to try new foods and introduce them to new tastes, flavours and textures can feel like an impossible task some days. To help you, here’s my top ten tips on how you can introduce new foods to your picky eater.
1. One At A Time
Be sure to only introduce one new food at a time. We don’t want to overwhelm the child and potentially increase any fear or anxiety they have around new foods. For moderate fussy eaters I would recommend introducing one new food every 3 days and for more severe fussy eaters maybe even one a week.
2. Pick Your Timing
Choose a time of the day or even day of the week when kids are alert and relaxed and not tired. Evening time is probably the worst time for most children, especially when they are young. They are too tired by 5pm to start trying new foods so choose a time earlier in the day when they are more likely to engage with the process.
For older children this may be difficult if they are in school all day so instead do it at the weekend.
4. 80/20 Rule
Don’t overwhelm the child with a whole plate of the new food. Add just a small amount to their plate alongside lots of foods that they know and love. I call this the 80/20 Rule – 80% safe foods and 20% new foods.
With very fussy kids, your goal when first introducing a child to a new food isn’t to get them to eat it, it’s to get them to accept that food on their plate. If they remove it the first couple of times, that’s ok. It’s all part of the process.
Once the child has accepted the food on their plate then it’s time to get them to interact with it. That’s touching it, smelling it… everything except for asking them to taste it. Let them build up to this in their own time. Patience is key!
7. Teeny Tiny Tastes
When they’re ready, ask them to try TTT – Teeny Tiny Tastes of the food. Let them know that’s it ok if they don’t like it. After one bite they can put the food down and leave it there. Once they have tried it but told you that they don’t want to try anymore, don’t force them to try it again. It’s important that you gain their trust and they know that they are not being forced to it.
8. Give Options
Kids like to feel that they are in control over what they are eating and this is especially true with fussy eaters. Giving children options is brilliant. For example, if you want them to try broccoli give them three different ways that you can serve it up. Steamed broccoli on it’s own, broccoli pasta bake or broccoli and cheddar soup. Let them choose how they try that food.
9. Food Prep
Getting kids involved in the preparation of foods you want them to eat can be really beneficial. Even if they don’t want to try that food and refuse to taste it, getting them peeling, chopping, cooking etc will help to make them more comfortable around foods that might otherwise cause them a lot of anxiety.
10. Keep Calm
We’re all guilty of losing our patience from time to time when we become so frustrated over our kids’ refusal to eat. But it’s really important that we try to stay calm and not increase the child’s own anxiety and emotion around food.
I hope these tips were helpful. If you have any tips of your own then please do let me know in the comments below.
Looking for ways to get your fussy eater to eat a better variety of food? Try Pick Plates. These round divided plates have five compartments to be filled with a wide selection of food groups and choices of ingredients. Perfect for making food fun, interesting and appealing to picky eaters.