4 Strategies to Help Your Kids Practice Tasting New Foods

Kids need multiple exposures to new foods before accepting them.

Why It Matters: When kids are young, they need exposure to a food 15 or more times before they'll willingly eat it. (And it just gets bigger as they get older.) This is a learned skill that requires patience and practice.

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Here are four actionable strategies that parents can use to gently guide their children toward becoming more adventurous eaters.

"The instinct might be to insist on a "just one bite" policy, but pressure can backfire. Kids often resist when pushed to try new things, especially with food"

#1. Avoid Pressuring

Rather than pressuring your kids to taste (or eat) something new, focus on offering new and familiar foods without forcing the issue. Let them see you enjoy the food; model the behavior you wish to see. Remember, eating should never feel like a test or a demand. This requires patience, and persistence, but in the end often yields the best results. 

#2. Provide Context, Use Language 

Imagine being handed something utterly foreign and told to eat it with no further explanation. You'd likely hesitate, right? Kids are no different.

Before introducing a new food, give them a little background. Compare it to something they already like or describe its flavor, texture, or appearance. This not only builds trust and confidence in what they are about to experience, but it also arms them with the language to express their own experiences and preferences as they practice tasting new, unusual, and their favorite things.

#3. Remember that Flavor is Your Friend

There's no merit badge for eating plain, steamed vegetables. Make new foods appealing by using dips, sauces, and seasonings. If your child doesn't like raw or steamed broccoli, for instance, try roasting it with a bit of olive oil and seasoning until it's crispy. Enhancing the flavor can make the tasting process much more enjoyable and successful.


#4. Practice with Foods they Already Love 

Introduce the concept of tasting with foods they already love. Organize a fun taste test with different varieties of a favorite food, like chocolate chips or apples. This activity isn't about challenging their palate but building trust and excitement around the idea of trying new things. It shows them that tasting can be a delightful adventure, reducing resistance when more unfamiliar foods are introduced.

Wrapping it Up

Adopting these strategies not only helps in introducing new foods but also fosters a healthier, more curious approach to eating that can last a lifetime. It's about making food an exploration, an adventure that you and your kids undertake together. 

And, as always, I'm eager to hear your own experiences and strategies for encouraging kids to expand their dietary horizons. Share your thoughts and tips in the comments below, and let's continue this delicious journey together.

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