We are excited to introduce our Nourished Kids series! Each week we will share creative ideas and recipes to feed your littlest eaters. Today we are sharing six creative ways to introduce new foods to your kids.
In a previous post, we gave you some ideas to help introduce new foods to kids who are selective or picky eaters. This time we thought we would expand on one of those suggestions and help you put your creativity to the test!
Although it certainly doesn’t apply to all, children (and adults) who are visual learners may also tend to be visual eaters! This means that what they see on their plate can play a big part in their decision to partake in a meal.
Bright colors, cool shapes, different textures, and getting them involved, can make mealtime all that more appealing to your child. Here are six ways to brighten up mealtime and have some fun in the process:
1) Eat the rainbow. If your child is drawn to bright colors, use nature’s prettiest foods to make a colorful dish he or she will love to eat!
2) Dress up breakfast. A simple bowl of oatmeal can be turned into a work of art that will make any morning brighter.
3) Cookie cutters are your best friend. If your child really loves a certain animal, car, shape, or holiday, find a cookie cutter for it! This is the easiest way to dress up a sandwich, and it gives you a starting point to add other fruits and veggies that they may not have tried before.4) Don’t forget about lunch. A fun lunchbox with lots of compartments makes it easier to include a variety of healthy options for your child to choose from. This one from PlanetBox has a section in the middle that is perfect for stickers!5) Get them involved. Whether it’s something as simple as a smoothie, baking muffins, or preparing a salad, let your kids join in. Seeing what is going into their food and being able to recognize or even try ingredients as they help, makes them much more confident about their meal. You may be surprised at how much they can do!
6) Use familiar foods, and one new food. No matter how pretty your meal, if your child’s plate is filled with foods they don’t like or are not familiar with, you probably won’t have much luck. Choose foods that your child knows and loves, and include only one new item for them to try.
At the end of the day, it is your responsibility to offer healthy options and your child’s responsibility to choose what they will eat. Just like you and I don’t like certain foods, our kids will also have their preferences. Patience is key in these matters, and even when it seems like your child won’t eat anything other than chicken nuggets and cheese crackers for the rest of his/her life, take heart. Continuous exposure to healthy options (and your example, of course) will reap long-term benefits.
Eunice Holmes, RDN, LDN is a regular contributor to this blog and assistant nutrition manager for PreviMedica. Her favorite things are pretty food, being a cat lady without actually having a cat, and of course, her family.