How to Get Your Kids to Try New Foods
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There has been much ado lately about sneaking nutrients into foods, whether through fortification or through handiwork in the kitchen. But if you do so, is your kid really "trying" something new? Are they ever going to try if you've pandered to fickle tastes for too long? "Children have to learn to be individuals and develop a taste for real food," says Bessinger. "If we're disguising our most nutrient-rich good stuff, then we're doing them a serious disservice."
Rely on peer pressure - the good kind.
Remember a childhood friend from another culture who ate miso soup or always had exotic fruits, like starfruit, in the fridge? It was way cooler to try foods at that friend's house than when your mom was pushing them. "If you tell them it's healthy or different, you've just built it up," says Bessinger. Then the experience becomes more about the parent-child relationship and less about the child-food relationship, and that's a mistake. Feel free to scheme with other parents so that your child is exposed to new foods away from the home, where he's much more likely to nosh.
Get the kids in on the process.
The number one way to get a kid to chow down on a mixed green salad, or even something as exotic as endive? Actively involve him in the process of getting the food on the table. Join your neighborhood garden (check out greenthumbnyc.org to find green spaces in your hood), and then get dirty growing some veggies. If that's too much of a task, try growing herbs in a window box. Once its dinnertime, let kids measure, marinate, mix - anything to give them a hands-on connection with the food you're introducing.
Here's some news for you: "It seems counterintuitive, but the key is really to just relax about the whole thing," says Bessinger. If you are nervous and uptight about something new, kids will pick up on the stress. She says that a better tactic is simply to put a new food on the table, no explanation necessary: "Just put it down and walk away - no reward, no punishment."