Did you know that it may take up to 15-10 tries for your child to accept and like a new food? 1https://www.childfeedingguide.co.uk/tips/common-feeding-pitfalls/food-refusal/ If your children have any fussy tendencies, you’ll know exactly what that’s like.
Don’t worry – this is a completely natural thing! Children will often reject new foods and textures simply because it’s foreign to them. This is called neophobia: the fear of trying new foods.2https://www.yummytoddlerfood.com/what-is-neophobia/
Fussy eating may be nature’s way of trying to protect your child from eating things that might be dangerous to their health. It can be frustrating for a health-conscious parent, but it’s extremely common! Most kids will experience some level of food neophobia between 2 and 7 years old.3https://www.yummytoddlerfood.com/what-is-neophobia/
This is also the reason that children like consistency and familiar textures. For example, with a packet of biscuits – every single biscuit in a packet should taste the same. Familiar and safe.
But – in a punnet of blueberries, some might be hard, soft, squishy, juicy, sweet, sour and everything in between. This is unfamiliar territory! It can take time for your child to understand what tastes and textures they actually like.
So what does that mean for you and your fussy eater? Here are some tricks to help them accept your healthy offerings:
Keep introducing new foods💫
It can take up to 15-20 tries for new food to become familiar and enjoyable for your kid. If they don’t like it the first time, there’s no need to force them to eat it. Make sure they eat the foods they do like and let them try it again in a few days. Your child is learning about different tastes and textures so allow them time to adjust.4https://www.cdc.gov/nutrition/InfantandToddlerNutrition/foods-and-drinks/picky-eaters.html
Let them play 🎉
We tell kids not to play with their food, but why not make it interesting? Letting your child taste, touch and experiment with the food can help. Children tend to eat more of their food if they prepare it themselves.5https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6768385/ So try and get your kid involved in cooking and preparation too.
Eat together 👩👧
Your child learns behaviours and eating habits from you. Eating the same meal with them is beneficial to build trust and confidence. Eating together is also an important family interaction that can lead to better self-esteem for your child. 6https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4325878/
Mix it up 🥣
Combine new foods with ones they love! You could mix it together or sneak some vegetables into everyday meals. It won’t always work but can help get those extra veggies in.
If all else fails – why not try a healthier alternative to some of their favourite foods? You can start with our Guilt-Free Ice Cream here.