Feeding Picky kids is so hard and sometimes we can get hyper-focused, stressed out, anxious, and worried. It can start to feel really serious and scary really fast when we don’t think they’re getting enough of the right things–protein, calories, etc.
Sometimes that seriousness makes its way to the table with us like a dark cloud. To lighten the mood, here are three unique ways to get your picky eater to try something new! It will help you keep things fresh, change your perspective, and help relax your kids at the table by making it fun again.
Let Them Feed You
This will likely feel super unnatural to you, but this is often the experience our kids have when we feed them. The role reversal will make it fun and exciting for them, especially if you try foods they’re uncomfortable around–and maybe even some you’re uncomfortable with, too!
Even though we may not be picky, even adults have preferences. For example, I hate olives and mushrooms and my son loves to order them on his pizza and he thinks it’s hilarious to ask me to try them.
Sometimes I will reflect the behavior he shows me at the table, in a loving way, and using similar language. Then I overcome it by saying something like “But I can be brave and just try it” or “It’s been a while so I will try it again”. I’m verbalizing what’s going on in my head that’s leading me to choose to take a bite.
He loves the look on my face because, surprise surprise, I still hate olives.
It’s important to model the behavior we want them to show when they don’t like a certain food, so I may say something like “It’s not for me. Maybe I’ll try again another day”.
It’s also a great opportunity to show them how to try something new and overcome a food they previously didn’t like. I don’t hate mushrooms the way I used to and have found ways to incorporate them into meals.
If you’re worried you won’t say or do the right thing, don’t let fear keep you from trying. Let them feed it to you, swallow it, then move on. It’s that simple! Typically that’s enough for them to get their gears turning.
Don’t expect it to be perfect and work the very first time, it will take time!
Make Up Stories/Characters/Identities For The Food
This can really push parents out of their comfort zone by forcing us into the pretend play area of our brain–something not often utilized in adulthood–but our children love it! Make up characters, laugh about them, make up stories, and make it fun and interactive.
Try using things they’re interested in, too. For example, when we were expecting his little sister, we would play a game with the brussel sprouts on his plate. We would name them Mom, Dad, Big Brother, and Little Sister according to size and he had a great time calling them by name as he ate them!
It was helpful that it represented our family and he was so excited to be a big brother. We played around with it, talking back and forth, keeping it fun and exciting for him. Now he has no problems with brussel sprouts!
Come Up With A Secret Ingredient
This trick will come in handy when you serve mixed dishes like oatmeal, chili, or curry. If it’s an ingredient we can say, we might start with a game of I-Spy, letting them find and identify the green, red, or yellow food.
Then have your kids taste it and try to guess the foods they’re tasting. They will start to form that connection in their brain between taste and identifying food to help decipher what they’re eating. It will help them be more confident, especially when eating mixed foods.
It helps them refine their palates, gets them interested in what they’re eating, and helps them recognize different foods and ingredients. For example, I added honey to our curry last week and after a while, my kids were able to identify it. We made it extra fun by pulling out the honey and drizzling it on top!
Get creative with your recipes! Try starting with foods you know they like and find ways to incorporate them in a new and unique way. Don’t be afraid to get a little silly and weird, but of course, make sure it’s tasty. Start with foods they like and go from there.
Of course, it’s not always as simple as trying three weird tricks. Maybe you’re feeling completely overwhelmed and beyond repair. If you want to take back control of your mealtimes and enjoy being at the table again, you can join my TableTalk Course today. I will guide you to becoming your child’s feeding expert to help bring joy back to your table.