Right now, your toddler is experiencing a world of transition and change. They are starting to develop their unique personalities and preferences. This includes their eating habits and what they choose and more often do not choose to eat. Introducing new foods to your toddler's diet can prove to be tricky and downright frustrating at times but can be made easier on both you and your little one with a few helpful tips.
TRY, TRY AGAIN
Do not get discouraged if your child does not like a new food the first time that it is introduced to them. Even as adults, our preference for certain foods often changes. We may find ourselves developing a taste for foods we typically avoid and eat foods that we normally indulge in less frequently. This is also true in the case of your toddler and one way to accommodate their developing and changing tastes is to give them the opportunity to try the food again a little later. If and when the initial taste test fails, try re-introducing the food in another two or three weeks. If they still don't like the food in question, try it again after another couple of weeks. You can continue this cycle as often as you like.
PREPARE THE SAME FOOD IN A DIFFERENT WAY
There are many factors the could contribute to why your toddler is steering clear of certain foods. It could be anything from an unpleasant texture to the unique flavor that different cooking methods can lend to a food. For example, you may discover that your child likes baked potato wedges but will not eat mashed potatoes or prefers baked chicken over grilled chicken. Offering a variety of preparations of the same food can help you understand your child's food preferences while expanding the variety in their diets. When dining out, most restaurants will meet your specific requests for your toddler.
INTRODUCE NEW FOODS WITH FAMILIAR ONES
While your toddler may not like raw vegetables such as carrot and celery sticks by themselves, they may enjoy them served with some peanut butter to dip the veggies in. Pairing an unfamiliar food item with something that your child enjoys is a great way to introduce them to new foods and can let them benefit from several food groups in one sitting. Other food combinations you can try with your toddler next to the above mentioned veggies and peanut butter are:
*fruit with yogurt
*Broccoli and cheese
*casserole dishes that can include meat and a variety of vegetables
INCLUDE YOUR TODDLER IN FOOD SHOPPING AND MEAL PREPARATION
Let your little one tag along with you to the grocery store. Encourage them to look at, feel, and smell (if applicable) the foods that you put into your cart. Point out the colors and shapes of the grocery items and explain what kind of meals you might cook with them and how they will taste.
When preparing a meal, have your child do safe and easy tasks for you such as rinsing vegetables or mixing ingredients together (under your supervision, of course).
Including your toddler in your shopping and cooking routine will take up more time, but the end result is worth it. Your child is more likely to want to eat what is on their plate at meal time when they are familiar with what it is and how it is made, especially if they helped you make it. Not only is it a good way to add some bonding time into a busy schedule, cooking and shopping with your toddler will help them develop a healthy knowledge of good foods and how to prepare them as they get older.
With a positive approach and a few easy guidelines, your toddler will open up to and enjoy the new foods introduced to them with more ease.