Home / Nutrition / How to Introduce different Foods to a Picky Child

How to Introduce different Foods to a Picky Child

Tantrums and tears can make you ‘give in’ to your child who has not developed a taste for various foods. So how can you give your child new foods without an episode of tantrums and tears? Every child is different, and they soon learn your ways of disguising the food they dislike, but if you haven’t already, try these and you might have some luck.

First thing first, always remember that your child will eventually develop a taste for a new food. Do you remember when you didn’t like the texture of avocado? How about when olives were a taste from a different planet? These foods are now part of your diet in one form or another, so one day, your child will develop a taste for them too. So try not to be too hard on them, unless it is a medical reason that they need to eat a particular food.

A generation ago, parents used to call different vegetables ‘rabbit’s food’ (carrots and salad vegetables) and ‘green spaghetti’ (shredded cabbage) to make you excited about eating vegetables. Now the more sophisticated way (maybe the more sneaky way) of getting healthy vegetables into young children, is to grate the vegetable finely and put them into a spaghetti bolgnaise sauce, cook them in rissoles or make a fried rice. Some children’s tastebuds are so sensitive, they know how to decipher the foods that they don’t like and spit out the piece of carrot or pea that was in the morsel they had been given, but most will eat those foods not even knowing that they haven been given their favorite ‘temper tantrum’ foods.

Instead of sticking to the tried and true, why not cook the food in a different way. For instance, instead of steaming vegetables, try a stir fry, cooking them on the barbecue or making a plate that looks fun – broccoli hair, peas for eyes, some corn freckles, a carrot smile and a large slice of a potato as the head. Ask your child to give their vegetable friend a name (a friend that has been mean to them in recent times) and then dare them to eat a part of them. Make it a competition (you vs them) and you’ve got your child to eat their vegetables.

You can do the same for meat as well. Instead of offering small bits of steak that are hard to chew, why not offer a meatball, Chinese beef or mince patties. Maybe offer a range of sauces that your child can dunk their small pieces of steak in for variety – ketchup, mayonnaise, plum sauce, a light mustard, gravy or a thick soy sauce. Variety can make it a whole lot more fun for a child.

If getting calcium into your child in the form of dairy is your issue, think outside the square. Put cheese in an omelet, make pancakes (milk is the main ingredient if you make them from scratch), put natural yogurt or evaporative milk in their dinner to make a creamy pasta sauce, melt cheese on some toast or maybe mix cheese in with some baked beans. And if your child has a sweet tooth, why not try a Sipahh Straw with different flavors including chocolate, strawberry, cookies & cream and/or, banana. It’s like a milkshake without the excess calories and sugar content.

Fruit salad is a great alternative for your child not wanting to eat a whole piece of fruit. Add a bit of ice-cream to make it feel like a treat. Make a fruit kebab that looks like a rocket ship and get the ‘rocket ship’ to enter the ‘black hole’ (your mouth). Add some yogurt for dipping.

If you eat the right foods, your children will soon follow. They won’t question it because the right foods (fruit, vegetables, dairy, meat, eggs, bread, pasta, rice, legumes, water) are part of your everyday life. The key is balance and moderation. Know what your children like, and feed them those right foods all the time until they start to show signs of ‘food’ boredom, then introduce ones they previously didn’t like again to them. They most likely will have developed a new sense of taste for that new food and it can now be part of your regular diet. Before you know it, your picky child will be an angel.