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10 Easy Ways to Get Picky Kids to Try New Foods

A bottle of Simply Heinz ketchup stands next to an open-faced burger with ketchup, as a suggestion for getting your picky eater excited about food.
Image Source: ©Disney. Photo by Sheri Silver for Babble

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As the mother of three kids — ranging in age from 9 to 27 — I’ve experienced every type of “picky eater” imaginable:

  • The “I’ll only eat white foods” eater.
  • The “I can’t eat foods that touch each other” eater.
  • The “It’s yucky/looks weird/tastes funny” eater.

And so on.

Like most parents, I’ve deployed every type of strategy imaginable to get those picky eaters to, well, eat. But of the many tips, tricks, and “hacks” to get my kids to try new foods, there are some that I can say, with confidence, truly work. They don’t involve hiding, disguising, blending, or otherwise masking those foods. And they don’t require an arsenal of kitchen tools and equipment, either (except for a cookie cutter or two).

You’ve got this!

A bottle of Simply Heinz ketchup stands next to a platter of sweet potato fries.
Image Source: ©Disney. Photo by Sheri Silver for Babble

1. Roast your veggies.

There isn’t a vegetable around that doesn’t benefit from roasting. The high heat caramelizes the veggies, bringing out their natural sweetness and making them much more flavorful than steamed or boiled. Bonus points for cutting them into “fry” shapes!

A row of delicious cookies sit in a box, side by side. The perfect temptation for picky eaters!
Image Source: ©Disney. Photo by Sheri Silver for Babble

2. Tweak those palates early.

“Better for you” flours (whole wheat, teff, almond, and coconut, for example) have a different and distinctive flavor and texture compared to their white counterparts. The sooner kids’ taste buds experience (and grow accustomed to) those flavors, the less resistant they’ll be to eating foods made with them.

For older kids that you’re trying to transition, do it slowly by phasing alternate flours in. For example, try using ½ whole wheat flour and ½ all-purpose when baking, and gradually increase the amount of whole wheat over time.

A bottle of Simply Heinz ketchup lays next to a platter of sweet potato fries and a ramekin filled with ketchup.
Image Source: ©Disney. Photo by Sheri Silver for Babble

3. Dip it — dip it good!

Kids love to dip, dunk, and swirl, so introduce new foods by pairing them up with a variety of dipping sauces that are made with only real ingredients — like Simply HEINZ Ketchup, which is made without high-fructose corn syrup. Let them go to town and watch them devour all kinds of veggies and veggie “fries.”

"Strawberry Mice" treats are made out of a Triscuit, topped with cheddar, topped with a strawberry and two almond slivers as ears.
Image Source: ©Disney. Photo by Sheri Silver for Babble

4. Make it visually appealing.

While you don’t want to encourage your kids to play with their food, making it look playful can help encourage resistant eaters to try something new.

A wooden tray sits on a counter with celery sticks covered in peanut butter and raisins.
Image Source: ©Disney. Photo by Sheri Silver for Babble

5. Get a better (nut) butter.

Peanut butter is a staple in almost everyone’s kitchen. But even if allergies aren’t an issue in your home, consider (even occasionally) substituting it with almond butter — which is richer in fiber, vitamin E, and certain important minerals.

Skewers sit on wax paper, holding a row of blueberries on each and star-shaped watermelon cuts on top.
Image Source: ©Disney. Photo by Sheri Silver for Babble

6. Put a bird on it!

Or a star. Or a fish. Cutting sandwiches, fruit, or cheese into fun shapes is a tried-and-true hack that is universally appealing.

An open-faced hamburger sits on the table with a squirt of Simply Heinz ketchup on top. The bottle sits next to it.
Image Source: ©Disney. Photo by Sheri Silver for Babble

7. Serve smarter alternatives to familiar favorites.

Think veggie burgers instead of beef, and an apple or veggie chips instead of a potato.

8. Add a “Casual Friday” to your weekly meal plan.

Sometimes a low-key approach works wonders. Serve up your regular, kid-approved dinner, but add in a new side dish — without forcing your kid to try it. Just seeing you enjoy that roasted broccoli rabe (minus the pressure) is often enough to pique a child’s curiosity.

9. Grow it.

There’s nothing more exciting than harvesting food that you’ve grown yourself. Even a small windowsill garden can foster a child’s appreciation for where her food comes from — and make him or her more inclined to give it a try.

The author's son stands at the kitchen counter, mixing recipe in a large bowl.
Image Source: ©Disney. Photo by Sheri Silver for Babble

10. Make it together.

Much like growing your own food, baking and cooking is not only a wonderful way to spend time together, but a great opportunity to involve your child in the process. Knowing that she is serving up something that she helped to prepare from scratch is a sure-fire motivator for trying new foods.

Bonus Hack: Serve water, with a twist.

Add fresh fruit to plain or sparkling water to make getting enough of both just a little easier. Make it more fun by serving it in a mason jar with a fancy straw.

Made with real, simple ingredients, pair up Simply Heinz with your family’s favorite foods this summer.

Article Posted 3 months Ago

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