8 Fun and Effective Ways to Get Picky Eaters to Try New Foods

rainbow fruit wraps

Breaking a picky eater is no easy feat. My daughter isn’t a terribly picky eater, but I have to take time to introduce her to new foods. She doesn’t just grab things on her own and gobble them up without question — kids rarely do! Here are a few suggestions for helping your picky eater (or should we just say your child?) explore new foods. I’ve read about or tried all these techniques myself over time. If you have tips of your own,  please share!

  • Try new foods as a family 1 of 8
    Try new foods as a family
    Meals become much more pleasant when families eat together at the table. Turn off the TV and let the telephone ring so you can concentrate on dinnertime conversation. When the entire family's eating the same meal, kids are more likely to try something new. It also provides a calm, happy atmosphere to discuss the tastes and textures of a new dish. Start with something easy and family-friendly, like this recipe.
    Make chicken and stars soup
  • Introduce new flavors in a healthy dessert 2 of 8
    Introduce new flavors in a healthy dessert
    Just as a spoon full of sugar makes the medicine go down, kids are more open to trying new foods if they're sweet. These frozen ice pops are made with fresh fruits and herbs. Have your kids pick out new fruit to try, pluck herbs, and make popsicles together.
    Make frozen fruit pops
  • Give foods a new form 3 of 8
    Give foods a new form
    Sometimes regular foods in a new shape can make all the difference. My daughter was always wary of lasagna, so I made them in individual cups. She went crazy for the cute shape! It also made it easier for her to try, one little cup was much less intimidating than a large slice of lasagna.
    Make lasagna cups
  • Add something new to something they love 4 of 8
    Add something new to something they love
    Even the pickiest eater has some food he or she loves. Add new ingredients to the familiar. For example, try putting some greens in your kid's mac and cheese. Be upfront about what you've added and include something new each time you make it. They'll eventually come to accept new flavors and maybe even be curious what will turn up in their mac and cheese next!
    Make mac and greens
  • Make the texture appealing 5 of 8
    Make the texture appealing
    Along with new flavors, kids need to learn to appreciate new textures. Kids who are not good chewers should start with simple purees. This way, they'll taste the food without having to chew thick vegetables or cope with an unusual texture. Once they come to enjoy the flavors, you can make the purees chunkier and eventually introduce a full-textured piece of the new food.
    Make pear and apricot puree
  • Play with your food 6 of 8
    Play with your food
    There's nothing wrong with making something fun out of food. My daughter didn't love strawberries at first, but we made them into little creatures like these. Not only did she succumb to eating them, she loved the chocolate chips and sweet cream. Now I can just serve her regular strawberry slices, but it took a while to get there!
    Make stuffed strawberry men
  • Introduce a variety of food in small portions 7 of 8
    Introduce a variety of food in small portions
    Kids eat smaller portions than adults, so make up small platters or boxes like these bento boxes. Fill them with a few bites of food they enjoy and add in some things they've never tried. Switch up the foods daily and treat it like an adventure. Keep introducing new things, and your kid can try food at her own pace.
    Make quick bento boxes
  • Show them the rainbow! 8 of 8
    Show them the rainbow!
    It's important to eat a colorful variety of fruits and vegetables to get essential nutrients. Introduce your kids to a rainbow of foods and make it fun. Ask if they can think of red fruits or vegetables they'd like to try. What other fruits are green? Get them involved in the process and encourage them to eat their own
    rainbows everyday!
    Make rainbow fruit wraps

Photo: Kathy Patalsky

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