As your toddler grows, they may go through many stages, including trying new foods. However, research reveals that half of all children exhibit fear when introduced to new foods. Child nutrition experts say this usually peaks at 24 months or two years, and it is a normal response among babies and toddlers. So, do not be surprised if your little one responds negatively to foods they’ve never tried.
However, this can be worrying as a parent, especially knowing that healthy foods play a significant role in growth. The tips below will guide you to do this without much stress and may help your child adopt healthy eating habits as they grow.
- Start with smaller portions
Many parents are not strangers to a child rejecting food, but if you’re a first-timer, the experience can be overwhelming. Due to the stress associated with feeding a child struggling to respond positively to new foods, it would help to start small. Smaller portions alongside your toddler’s favourite foods will make the transition easier for them.
Psychologically, your toddler wouldn’t feel pressured to eat an entirely new meal when they see another food they recognise on the tray. Indeed, portion sizes may be relative; therefore, knowing how little to add is the trick. If your toddler isn’t a fussy eater, you can start with a tablespoon of a new meal alongside their most-preferred foods.
On the other hand, if your child has already shown signs of being a picky eater, a tinier portion might be ideal. Over time, you can gradually increase the new food portions while decreasing their favourites on the same plate. Continuing this until your toddler becomes comfortable with it would be best.
- Get creative with the presentation
Just like everyone else, your toddler will be enticed by new food, depending on the presentation. That will require ample use of creativity and a visually appealing presentation. For example, try thin slices of carrots with a healthy creamy avocado dip when introducing your toddler to vegetables. The orange and green colours create a vibrant appearance that makes your child want to try a new meal.
You can also try new child-friendly recipes to make your toddler’s diet more attractive. For instance, you can try baking these lady finger cookies that can be eaten with any other child-friendly dip, so feel free to consider this.
Additionally, a colourful fruit salad is another creative way to up your game in your child’s food presentation. If your toddler is already learning shapes, you can get a little more creative by cutting new fruits into easily identifiable shapes that entice them to put pieces into their mouths. As you constantly try these creative ways, your toddler will eventually look forward to trying new meals while learning other helpful things, such as colors, shapes, and healthy eating. The key here is to make mealtime an enjoyable activity for your toddler.
- Lead by example
According to child psychologists, although children are born with unique character traits, many often model their behaviours after their primary carers, such as their parents. Therefore, when you’re introducing new foods to your toddler, it would help to get used to these meals yourself. Leading by example demonstrates actions you want your toddler to identify with and emulate. If you have unhealthy eating habits, your child may copy that too and gradually grow with similar habits, which may affect their health in the long run.
You can pique your little one’s interest by eating the foods you want to encourage them to try. For instance, they’d love seeing you eating carrots and all those vegetables you’ve introduced into their meals. If you’re eating the same thing, there is greater interest to try them too, which can help make the transition easier. This step will also require careful meal planning to ensure your daily meals eaten in the presence of your toddler align with your goal of getting them to try new, healthy foods.
Getting your little one to try new foods can be challenging. However, it would help if you weren’t too hard on yourself as a parent. Remember to be persistent and patient when getting your child to try new foods. Applying the above tips will help make the transition easier for your toddler and help you achieve your desired results. Consistently doing this can help you identify which strategy works best for your child. It may not always be easy, but your efforts will eventually pay off.