How do you get your child to try new foods?

Markelle - posted on 12/04/2009 ( 13 moms have responded )

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My 5 year old refuses to try new things. My parents made me sit at the table for hours but I don't think it ever made me more open minded it just made me think they were mean.

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Hanna - posted on 12/17/2009

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I'm a strong believer in variety & food tasting good. So i'm feeding my son variety since he was 5 months old and we introduce new foods to him like it's no big deal. so far he's been doing good and ate everything we fed him. it's important for kids to see that everyone eats the same thing and know that you won't cater to their wimps (i.e. this is not a restaurant, so whatever you made, that's what's for lunch/dinner). yes there will be some major dislikes (i don't eat raw honey & caviar, my sister doesn't drink milk and my brother doesn't like nuts -- we are not allergic, but we don't eat them). however, the rest of the stuff is all about putting it on the plate, making sure it tastes good and not making a huge fuss about it. and let's be honest, steaming peas & carrots takes the same amount of time as lightly sauteeing them in some olive oil wiht some fresh herbs & a bit of garlic except the later tastes much better.

sometimes it means that you cook a familiar food with a new ingredient (e.g. spinach mac & cheese or a vegetable lasagna/eggplant parm). another thing is, you need to make sure that stuff is well seasoned with stuff other than plain salt & pepper. the reason why restaurant food tastes so good is because they use butter, stocks, garlic & fresh herbs to season. i work in a restaurant & am married to a chef, so a bit of spices & herbs & sometimes red/white wine in a sauce/splash of brandy to deglaze go a long way. the alcohol evaporates but the taste stays and works wonders in the sauce.
personally, i'm a huge fan of italian food (not italian american that all gets cooked in 3" of oil, but real modern italian that is very light, tasty & healthy) -- it is all about having 5-6 good quality ingredients and combining them together to create an amazing meal. every ingredient is there for a reason, food usually isn't labor intensive (except for pizzas & fresh pastas) and even marinara sauce or bolognese can be made in under 30 minutes. i also love growing fresh herbs in my back patio (well now that it's colder, they have migrated into the kitchen). i have rosemary, thyme, oregano and basil -- i bought them in walmart & home depot for under $5 (except rosemary -- that was a bit more because you need to buy a bigger plant since it grows so slow) and now every meal gets great seasoning and they've been here for over 5 months and are still fresh & available every night for dinner. my son has been getting a bit of herbs & garlic in his food since he was 6.5 months old and loves it. he's also tried blue cheese & truffle oil and LOVES those too.
i am also very much against kid meals in restaurants because they just promote bad eating habits in children -- yes they're cheap but they're also usually basic food that's not very good for them (e.g. burger & fries, spaghetti with cream sauce or meatballs, chicken and pizza). yes those are cheap and great when you're trying to eat on a budget, but for that same price you can order an extra side of something (or two) and share some of your meal with them and your child grows up eating adult food rather than chicken nuggets & fries or instant mac & cheese.

Shelagh - posted on 12/17/2009

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My mother always got us to try new things three times - she used to say, the first time, you won't like it, the second time, you'll think hmm, it's OK, and the third time, you'll like it! Doesn't always work (I will never like evaporated milk), but she got my son to eat mushrooms and broccolli this way!
I used to pretend it was a treat - they could only have it if they'd been good. Got my daughter to eat cheese this way.

Markelle - posted on 12/07/2009

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Thanking everyone for the great ideas! We actually got her to try eggplant last night this is a big step.

Karen - posted on 12/06/2009

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Whenever I wanted to introduce new foods to my son I would put them on my plate and not his. Children always want what they don't have. Don't act as if he can't have any, but see how he reacts to it not being on his plate...then offer him some.
BTW: My son is 24 now and eats everything including brussell sprouts.

Bonnie - posted on 12/06/2009

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I agree with you Laurie. My kids now 28 and 26 eat healthy. They don't eat out much and tend to cook healthy foods i.e lots of veggies, fruit and so forth. They don't deep fry as they say they don't like the taste of the fat or grease----no kentucky fried for them.

Laurie - posted on 12/06/2009

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I have 3 very picky eaters. Sometimes I would bribe them with a good desert for trying. Makeing sure that they knew they could spit it out if they didn't like it. At ages 25&21 my two daughters have really broadened thier horizons. My 8yr old son is still trying out new foods. Looking ahead, I don't think there are any kids going to college just eating chicken nuggets and tator tots!!!!

Bonnie - posted on 12/06/2009

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I realize everyone's taste buds are different, but if you are as busy as my husband I both were you don't have time to cater to a lot dislikes over food. What was for th meal was what there was. When cooking supper I took into account the dislike list. For instance My youngest didn't like beets so I would have beets and say green beans for the vegetable so there was the choice. As for the main meal, that is, the meat, I would choose out of the pork, chicken or beef. In our family I was the only one who liked Liver, the rest didn't so I wouldn't make it. On of my lids didn't like green peppers in the salad so I wouldn't put that in it but put some on the side so everyone else could put it in their's. You could try what Angie suggested, it may work. We just found that with our schedule and the girls' schedules there wasn't enough time or energy (on my part) to cook completely separate meals for everyone. If someone kicked up a real stink over what was being served (and the dislike list was in place) then they just simply not have anything to eat until the next meal, this also included snacking in between meals.

Becky - posted on 12/06/2009

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My twelve year old still does this to me! the thing is is that everyones taste buds are different......I would try like Angie said to put it on thier plate and have them try it to make sure they don't like it......then go from there!

Bonnie - posted on 12/06/2009

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I am not sure if this will help. Our kids are allowed 5 foods that they don't have to eat. These five things are set up as the don't like list and doesn't change unless something new is added that they don't like. At that point a review of the 5 dislikes is in order. If they do not like the new item then they have the option to remove a dislike and add the new dislike. The list is no more than 5 dislikes and does not change on a day to day basis.

Lori - posted on 12/05/2009

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This may be a pain, but as you are introducing new foods to your child, may offering the new food in a new or different fashion might work. When I was a kid, about the age of yours, I wouldn't eat corn. One night for dinner, knowing I liked mashed spuds, my mom put a small serving of corn on top of my potatoes and I liked it. Good luck.

Angie - posted on 12/04/2009

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I put it on their plates and tell them that need to take a few bites to make sure they like (or don't like) the new food.

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