Do you find yourself dreading having to cook the same dish over and over again? Maybe it’s time to get your child to try something new. Here’s how.
WORDS TEO KUAN YEE
Your toddler may have certain preferences for certain taste textures and it might feel like mission impossible to get him to accept alternatives. However, your little bub is entering an exciting growth phase – eating a variety of foods will not only fuel his growth and development, it will help groom him into an appreciative foodie instead of a picky eater.
Here are some ways to nudge your toddlers to venture beyond his comfort zone and try new foods.
Go for Variety
It may be a drag to prepare the same set of food every day – same too for your child who is going to eat it. Try to mix up the foods that your child enjoys eating to inculcate the habit of consuming different foods every day – this will help pave the way to get him to try new foods. Load your toddler’s plate with a few different foods, with at least one of them being something that he enjoys. Then encourage him to explore the new food — feel and smell it.
Sourcing the Food
When your toddler is involved in the procurement process, he would be more intrigued in the food that you have introduced to him.
Bring him along when grocery shopping to expose him to the wide variety of foods.
Get him to choose the item that he would like on the dinner table as well so that
he is pleasantly surprised by the end product and will be more willing to taste it.
Better still, if you have space for a garden, try growing some vegetables so that your toddler can pluck the vegetables when they are ready for you to dish it up either raw or inside his favourite food, such as growing spring onions from onions which complements an egg omelette.
Get Him Excited
Try to interest your toddler by highlighting what is special about the new food, such as its texture, flavour and colour. Make it a fun experience for your toddler to try different temperature foods. However, if your toddler does not want to try them, let him decide how much to eat or to eat it later, and do not fret over it if he does not comply. Sometimes, it is because he does not wish to eat that particular food at that point in time.
Instead of heaping your toddler’s plate with boiled broccoli, try combining it with foods that they like. For instance, if your child likes eggs, combine some broccoli bits or finely-grated carrot strips into the omelette, or mix it into pasta with the cream sauce. For stir-fry veggies, try to add flavour, such as oyster sauce and a bit of fish sauce, to it so that it plays down any “bitter” taste, and simmer it longer to soften the texture. If your child enjoys yoghurt with raisins, try introducing other fruits such as blueberries or grapes as alternatives.
Time it Well
If your toddler is semi-full at dinner time, chances are that he would not be interested to try something new. Introduce the new food when your toddler is hungry. This means you need to manage his afternoon snack intake such that he would have sufficient time after lunch to work up an appetite. You can introduce the new food as an appetizer.
Persevere Despite Initial Nos
Bearing in mind that it is common for kids to resist new foods they are offered, continue to try, again and again, if your little one turns his nose up the first few times around. Think about the long-term benefits of getting your child to accept the new food, including new fruits and veggies. Carry on to serve the new food up, again and again, such that it becomes a staple on your dinner table. Your little one would become familiar with the food and grow to accept the new texture and taste.
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