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Take It Or Leave It
We are pretty lucky. From the time he was very little our son has always been an adventurous eater. He’s that way naturally, and we have encouraged this as well with our “take it or leave it” policy at the dinner table. He was never picky. He’s always trying something new. Every family is different. Some parents are ok with typical “kid” food, some require their child to eat everything on their plate until it’s gone, and some require certain amounts of different foods. I’m not qualified to tell you what’s right or wrong, however; if you are looking for some tips you can try to help encourage your child to branch out a little more, I’m hoping I can offer some useful advice.
Introduce one new food per week.
There have been several times that I have heard a parent say: “You won’t like that” when a child reaches for a food they haven’t tried before. These are often the same parents who complain that their kids are picky eaters. When shopping each week, let your child pick out a new ingredient that you plan to use. I usually insist that our son chooses a fresh ingredient, but I have also allowed baking ingredients as well as some others depending upon what we have planned for the week. Whatever this food is, make it part of the menu that week.
Let your picky child be an active part of menu planning.
Ask your child what different dinners they would like to try for the upcoming week. Keep a few of their favorites if introducing new ingredients is something you haven’t done for awhile. You can get a copy of my menu planning guide here!
Allow your picky child to help you prepare meals.
Give them a bowl and a spoon and let them combine ingredients, butter a pan, peel fruits, make burger patties, or help to fill measuring cups. There are so many ways that little hands can help in the kitchen. We own these handy tools below. My son loves helping in the kitchen, and having kitchen tools sized just for him help him to own the process!
Make sure that as a parent, you are modeling trying new foods.
Your children will learn more by watching you then they will by the verbal instructions you give them. Try something new and tell them how you are enjoying it (or not). The goal isn’t to get them to like everything, it’s getting them to try new things.
If they try something new, and they don’t like it, praise them for trying.
We have a few rules at our table. One of them is that I cook only one meal. There are times I cook meals that may include ingredients that our adventurous eater doesn’t like. For example, he doesn’t like mushrooms. I still make Chicken Marsala. I will usually push the mushrooms off of his plate. However; once, every couple of months, he is told to try them again. Although he still doesn’t like mushrooms, there have been other foods that he has tried again and has decided that he liked. It’s just important to praise them for trying so they are encouraged to do it again.
I wish you the best with those little bellies you need to fill!