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Getting Your Kids to Try New Things

Power struggles with children can't always be avoided. When it comes to food, you may be wondering how you can get your kids to try new things without it becoming a battle.

Remember that forcing a child to eat usually doesn't get you very far. In addition, you need to be aware of how some eating disorders are caused by an unhealthy focus on food.

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If you have a picky eater or one who is reluctant to try new things, then you may be concerned that your child is not getting a balanced diet. More than likely, over the course of several days, your child is probably getting enough variety and nutrition. Here are some tips that may help your child to try new things.

Understand Children's Appetites

It helps to understand children's appetites, which can change based on several factors, including the child's age, time of day and even the time of year.

Children go through different growing spurts where sometimes it seems all they do is eat and at other times, it seems they are never hungry. This can be dependent on the body's stage of growth and development.


The time of day can also play a part. Some children prefer a bigger breakfast while other children may just pick at their food. Once you figure out the meal and time of day that your child especially enjoys, use that as an opportunity to try something new.

In the summer, when it's really hot outside, children tend to drink more than they eat. Keep in mind the time of year and how the weather outside may affect their appetites. Since active play often brings on hunger that may be another opportunity to introduce something new.{relatedarticles}

Create a Meal Routine

A consistent meal routine trains your child to be hungry at certain times of the day. If you serve meals and snacks around the same time every day, they will come ready to eat. This may be a good way to introduce new foods.

Eliminate drinks, other than water, and snacks for at least an hour before each meal. This will ensure your child is hungry at mealtime. Also be sure to offer a variety of foods at each meal.


Demonstrate Patience

The worst thing you can do to introduce your child to something new is to become impatient. If a child senses that you are angry or upset, it will only create tears or a battle. Younger children especially take their time getting used to new foods. By reintroducing the new food more than once, you give your child an opportunity to explore it.

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Don't Focus On Taste

Try not to focus on taste. Parents who insist that something tastes good are creating the setting for a food battle. Make the food sound interesting by talking about the color, shape or how it feels in your fingers.

Be Creative

With a little creativity, you can make trying new foods more enjoyable. Vegetables can be served with a dip. Some foods can be cut into fun shapes with cookie cutters. Switch things around and try serving breakfast for dinner.

You can even be creative and make the meal more appealing by setting a special table setting. Or instead of sitting at the table, have a picnic in the living room or outdoors. You can also play restaurant, enlisting the help of your child as a waiter. Make the mood of eating fun and enjoyable.


Involve Your Children

Get your children involved by inviting them to pick out something new on your next trip to the grocery store. Children like to make their own choices, which can make trying something new easier.

Involve your children in food preparation. If they help cut, rinse or stir, they may be more inclined to try what they have helped to make.

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Mix It In

You can always mix in new foods with sauces, creams and dips. Try new things on top of casseroles, pastas and cereals. With a little creativity, you can add new things in to your child's old favorites.

Make Only One Meal

Some parents will make more than one meal in order to make everyone happy. This is a sure way to create a picky eater who is never willing to try something new. Stick with making only one meal and offering only that one meal.

Over time, your child will come to realize that this is the only meal they are being served at that time and will more likely get used to it.


Encourage, Rather Than Punish

Encourage your child to try new things but don't punish. You can sing about the new food, tell a story about the new food or just demonstrate a positive attitude. However, punishing children for not trying new things or making them feel bad will only create more battles.

Children appreciate praise, so demonstrating praise for trying something new; making a big deal out of it will go far. At the same time, you don't want to reward your child for trying something new. Giving your child candy or something sweet in exchange for trying food sends the wrong message. It can also create an addiction to sugary foods.

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Set a Good Example

Of course, the best thing you can do is set a good example by eating a variety of foods. If your children see you trying new things and enjoying a variety of different types of foods-particularly fruits and vegetables-they may be more inclined to follow suit.


On the other hand, if they only see you eating junk food or processed snacks, they may be less inclined to try new fruits and vegetables.

Remember that sometimes it takes small steps before you see any real difference in your child being able to try new things. If you are truly concerned about your child's diet, you can always talk to your family doctor.

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The best advice is to relax, be patient and give it time. Your child will likely learn how to enjoy a variety of different foods.