Written by: Melissa Antal Iftimie, CEO/co-founder of Foublie
Some days feeding your kids probably feels easier than others. Know the feeling? Why is it never straightforward? It could be the weather, your mood, your little one’s appetite...there are lots of variables, most unpredictable.
My company, Foublie is the pediatrician-approved virtual nutrition and location clinic. Our nutrition experts have helped so many families make mealtime easier. One question we get a lot is how to get a child to try new foods. I’m here to tell you there are some pretty easy things you can do to up the odds of mealtime bliss more in your favor. Want to guess where it starts? Well, you’re reading this blog at Ahimsa, so you better believe it begins with your little one’s plate!
So here we go, our favorite plate tricks that help all kids, including the picky ones, have happier mealtimes.
Always serve a familiar food
Children really love a good routine, and that extends to having predictability in what they eat. You can use this to help your child try something new, while feeling safe. How does this work? The goal is to serve the new food (or food your little one doesn’t like yet) on a plate with other foods that they are already comfortable with. Start by placing 1 bite/1 spoonful of the new food on the plate, next to the other foods they already know. This strategy helps kids relax, and that increases the chance they will try something new.
How to make it work in practice? Use the divisions in the Ahimsa plate to your advantage. Use one of the small compartments as the place you always put a bite or two of something new.
Embrace Shapes and Faces
Another fun, proven, strategy we love for parents looking for picky eating help, or help with kids who don’t love all foods is to mix up how food is served. Try to physically arrange foods on a plate in a fun shape or color pattern. My go-to is a simple flower design with cut up apple slices for the petals and a berry as the center. You can swap in some new foods in the design. Want more ideas? Use smaller cookie cutters to make sandwiches into fun shapes – like stars, hearts, or flowers. The moms on Pinterest know what’s up and are a great source of inspiration.
Not feeling creative? There is some research that a simple novel plate is enough to make food fun. The Ahimsa plate with it’s rainbow colors could be all you need!
Don’t Plate it At All
Take the pressure off eating by getting kids more involved. Have your kid serve themselves or point to the things they want. For example, serve the food family style on the table. The key here is that YOU pick the options they can choose from and they pick which ones they want to eat. It can be really hard to let go here, especially if they only pick the bread. But, over time this method will actually encourage your little one to pick more options and feel in control of what they are eating!
How to make it work? This is really good for older kids who can serve themselves, but the little ones can point and make choices too. Have confidence in your role- simply providing the food.
The Bottom Line
Remember, most toddlers and young kids are skeptical of new foods. They have to be! Some believe this is the way we have been protected from running off and trying poisonous berries for centuries. In summary:
- Use familiar foods to introduce new foods. We like the 80/20 rule – 80% of the plate consists of foods your little one knows and loves and 20% can be foods they kind of like and maybe are just learning.
- No matter how creative you may get with the design of your child’s plate, you can never go wrong with a relaxed attitude at meal times.
- Please don’t take it personally if your little one immediately refuses to even pick up the new food. Move on and know that you can try again tomorrow, with the same food or with a different new food.
- You’ve got this!
Want more help?
Head on over to Foublie, where we have lots of free resources on feeding kids. If you need some extra love, Foublie Coaches are here to help you make those small tweaks that can have powerful results. Ready to chat? We’re here for it!
Melissa Antal Iftimie is the CEO and co-founder of Foublie, the pediatrician-approved guide to feed your family. She’s worked with parents around the world for over 15 years, helping families feed their kids with confidence. Say hi at email@example.com