All kids have their favourite foods, but feeding them new foods can become a bit of a challenge. Here are some tried and tested tips and games to get your kids to be more adventurous at mealtime
1. Your mini chefs
Involving your children in the shopping and preparation will make them more interested to try the food they are eating. Take them grocery shopping with you and challenge them to pick some ingredients that they’ve never tried before. In the kitchen, have your kids help out with the cooking. If they are little, get them to wash vegetables or measure ingredients for baking, and if they’re older, they can help with any chopping or stir food on the hob.
2. What would Batman do?
Sometimes food endorsement is key. If their favourite character Batman loves broccoli, they’re going to be more likely to give it a try it. It may be a small fib, but it will be enough to get one or two bites in. Also try renaming new foods. For example, broccoli will be more fun to eat if they’re called trees and carrots as magic swords.
3. Reward time
Play games that celebrate your kids trying new foods. Create a food chart or keep a food calendar on the wall and when your child tries a new food, write it down and mark it with a colourful sticker. Do this as often as you like and at the end of the month, reward them with a new set of stickers, or a small prize for their effort. Your kids will enjoy looking back at all those stickers that mark their adventurous eating achievements.
4. Go abroad
Introduce new foods by becoming culinary travellers. Pick an international destination each week and make a meal with your kids of food from that region. Making mealtime a fun, learning experience will take any fuss out of your fussy eater.
5. Watch the clock
A child’s propensity to try new foods can actually depend on the time of day. Avoid snacks approximately two hours before meals to ensure they’re hungry, and make sure they aren’t too tired when they are having dinner. Kids are unlikely to be experimental with new foods if they are cranky and bedtime is calling. Who would be?
6. I see, I do
As all parents know, kids love to mimic grown-ups. While you may have fallen into a routine of cooking one meal for the kids and another for the grown-ups, you’d be surprised how keen they are to eat like mummy and daddy. Start devising meals for the whole family – delicious one-pot dishes can served at the table, making the kids feel like part of the gang. A couple of side dishes allow you to tailor different tastes and allows the kids to pick and choose what they like.
7. Finally, relax
Most important of all, don’t let yourself to get too upset or frustrated by your fussy eater. Mealtimes should be a happy occasion and food should be fun. All kids will go through a fussy eating phase, and nearly all of them will naturally come out the other side with widened repertoires and more adventurous tastebuds. The most important thing is to make mealtimes enjoyable and something to look forward to.