It is quite common for toddlers and young children to start exerting their independence by refusing certain foods, or frequently changing what their favourite food is. One week it’s cheese toasted sandwiches, then the next they hate cheese, but want strawberry jam, no crusts! Sound familiar?
When introducing a new food to a child, the key factor is repeated exposure. It could take anywhere from 15 to 30 times before a child even samples the item, so don’t give up. Other helpful tips include:
- Continue to place a small amount of the food on the child’s plate, for example one broccoli floret, so as not to overwhelm. And as you have probably heard before, try not to make a fuss. If the child refuses the item, gently remind him/her that it will stay on the plate until they finish the rest of the meal.
- If it is a vegetable that you are introducing, try cooking it a different way, as some children prefer different textures, much like adults! You could roast, steam, boil or bake.
- Let kids get messy while eating. This can be frustrating if you are a (recovering) perfectionist like myself, however sensory experiences with food for children will go a long way towards food acceptance. Kids need to be able to discover all of the characteristics of food in order to trust it and what better way to achieve this than by letting them immerse themselves in some sensory play with food.
Remember that it is developmentally normal and healthy for your child to put up resistance at meal times; you are not alone in this battle. Hopefully these tips prove useful.
All kids develop at their own speed, however if you are concerned about your child’s eating, do not delay in seeking a professional opinion. Early support and intervention can be invaluable in assisting. Start with your General Practitioner (GP) if you are unsure, or of course a qualified Accredited Practising Dietitian (APD).
I’d love to hear if you have any of your own tips? What have you found most effective?
Thanks for stopping by, Madeleine.