Does your child have difficulty accepting new foods? Young children tend to prefer foods that they’re already familiar with and reject unfamiliar foods, flavours and textures. While it may appear that your child is a picky eater, they may just need more time to familiarise themselves with the food before trying it.
Nonetheless, having a varied, nutritious diet is essential for a child’s growth and development. Encouraging children to try new flavours and textures through consuming natural foods can also positively impact their health outcomes later in life. Here are some creative ways to introduce a variety of nutritious flavours and textures to your child’s diet.
1. Incorporate fun games and activities
Before introducing new foods to your child, let them learn about the foods through interesting games and activities. For example, you can put some fruits and vegetables in a bag and let your child guess what they are by feeling their textures or smelling them. By letting your child learn about the new food ingredients prior to trying, they will be more likely to be receptive to these new flavours.
2. Involve your child in meal planning
From deciding what should be on the menu to selecting vegetables, fruits and other nutritious foods at the supermarket, let your child be involved in the process of meal planning. By letting your child help out in meal planning, they will know what to expect at the dining table in the coming weeks, and be less likely to be fussy and resist new foods.
3. Let them help out in the kitchen
Allowing your child to actively participate in the meal preparation process can further pique their interest in new food ingredients. Depending on your child’s age, you can get them to help with weighing, stirring, measuring and adding ingredients. You could also get them to read the cooking instructions out loud.
Engaging your child’s senses during the cooking process can inspire them to be curious about the food ingredients used. Besides, since the meal was partly prepared by them, it’s likely that they’ll be excited to try it!
4. Try creative food presentation ideas
Making food ingredients look attractive could be an effective way to get around fussy eating habits. Try using cookie cutters to cut fruits and vegetables into interesting shapes that will get your child’s attention. You could also try assembling food ingredients to resemble animals, birds or flowers.
5. Food pairing
Another good way of introducing new foods to picky eaters is to pair them with foods that they enjoy. For example, if your child is a fan of cream cheese, try pairing that with a new food ingredient you wish to introduce, such as celery sticks. You could also add fruits to their favourite breakfast cereals or chopped vegetables to pasta sauce – the possibilities are endless. By pairing their favourite foods with something new, they are more likely to try the combination.