Trying new foods with your child could be one of your goals for this year. Eating a variety of fruits and vegetables provides your body with many of the vitamins and minerals it needs to stay healthy. Fruits and vegetables provide us with nutrients like:
- potassium: important for brain function and muscle contraction
- fiber: helps keep your digestive system regular and fight cancer
- vitamin A: helps to keep the immune system strong and produce new cells
- vitamin C: helps form and maintain bones, skin, and blood vessels.
- folate: maintains energy, muscle strength, and concentration
But sometimes we, or our children, get stuck in a rut of eating the same old foods without the variety our bodies need.
If your child refuses to eat certain foods, or does not want to taste something new, they're not alone! Children don't always like new foods right away. They might need your help in learning to like new foods. Here's how to get them to try new foods:
- Give children small amounts to taste or play with at first. This can be as small as a spoonful of peas or cooked carrots, a piece of an apple, or one section of an orange.
- Cook with your child! Does your child like to help you in the kitchen? Children love to eat foods that they have helped to make, choose or prepare. When children get to help prepare foods, they are much more likely to try new foods, so include them when preparing a new food. Let them help get foods ready to cook or eat like tearing up lettuce, scrubbing veggies before cooking, or mixing ingredients for a dish. It is a great way to encourage your child to eat new fruits and vegetables. Cooking together means more time together with your children.
- Be a good role model. Do you enjoy fruits and veggies or other healthy foods? Include them in your meals and show your children how much you like them. Talk about what you like, the taste or the texture or even the color!
- Be patient. Remember that your child might need to try a new food up to 15 times before they like it and eat it when you give it to them.
- Try making the new food in different ways. Cooked veggies often taste stronger than raw veggies, so introduce the food both ways. Adding a low-fat dip, like hummus or yogurt, can make the food more exciting. Cut the foods into different shapes or cook them with flavorful spices.
- Pair a new food with a favorite food. For example, if your child loves macaroni and cheese, add a new veggie like peas or broccoli. When your child is hungry, serve a new fruit or vegetable as a snack with another food they like.
- Have your child choose a new food to try from the grocery store. Trying new foods is more fun for kids when they help choose them.
- Join the Two Bite Club. Encourage your child to try two bites of a new food. If they don’t like it, it’s okay! Try again another time.
- Mix it up! Serve a new recipe each month for the whole family. Find new recipes at: go.umd.edu/eatsmart-recipes. Here are some of our favorites: