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Who doesn’t love macaroni and cheese? Or spaghetti and meatballs? Chances are good you have a stockpile of meal ideas you know your little one will eat, but you want to give them more. Getting kids to try new food can be challenging, but there are a few different ways to approach it.

5 Tips for Getting Your Child to Eat New Foods

Below are some of our favorite tips for introducing new foods to children to help them learn to be more willing–and even excited–to try new flavors!

1. The “Flavor Window”

Most kids are picky. Studies suggest there’s a small window, dubbed “the flavor window,” within which children develop a more accepting palate. In terms of introducing new foods, the sooner, the better. Early introduction could potentially set your child on the course of healthy eating for life. 

2. Eat With Them

Monkey see monkey do. If they see that you’re enjoying that weird-looking dragon fruit, they’ll be more likely to give it a try themselves. Make the same plate for everybody. Family mealtimes are important anyway and getting your child to try some new foods is just icing on the cake. 

3. Mix the Old with the New

Any time you offer your child a new kind of food, pair it with something reliable that you’ll know they’ll eat. Having something familiar on the plate will make the new food less scary and you’ll rest assured that they’ll at least eat something tonight. For instance, say they LOVE peas and rice. Switch it up a bit and sub out quinoa or some other whole grain for the rice. They might not touch the new stuff at first, but an introduction is a big first step, and first impressions can be tough!

4. Embrace Repetition

Keep the faith if they don’t try it the first time! Studies show that, on average, toddlers have to be introduced to a new food item at least 5-10 times before trying it, and it can take older kids up to 15 times before they give it a shot. 

5. Keep It Simple

Try not to overwhelm them with portion size. Large portions can be intimidating to younger kids and small portions seem like much less of a commitment. Think of it as a sample size: I’m not sure I want to buy into the whole thing yet, but I might be willing to taste it. This will also help them to control their portioning later in life. And keep each meal to the basics: a fruit, a grain, a protein, and a vegetable.

Final Thoughts 

Above all, don’t let it turn into a power struggle; nobody wins. Be patient with yourself and your little one. Small bites count; some days, even just a lick in the right direction can be a win! Remember, it takes a lot of tries to get it right, so just keep plugging away. 

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