If you know me personally, you know I love all things food. I try to be as intentional as I can with filling our house with a good variety and nutrient rich options for the three of us. As my son has gotten older he has gravitated towards certain foods and has decided what he likes and does not like (changes with more exposure). I thought I would share what has worked for us when encouraging him to eat and try a variety of foods since that can be a challenge with children.
I would love to know anything that works for your children!
1.Only Buy What You Want Them To Eat/Drink
I only purchase food and snacks that I am comfortable with my son eating on a daily basis. I tend to buy snack items like trailmix, squeeze pouches, bars, veggie straws, etc for the pantry and load up on cold foods. I also keep the drink options to water, milk, or bubble water. I have learned that I set the tone for the food options and control what comes in.
2. Allow Choice
I recently rearranged our pantry to have the bottom shelf as an “all access” zone for our son. He has a couple baskets of snack items he can choose from and all of the fruits we keep outside of the fridge (halos, peaches, apples, bananas,etc). He has learned that he can go and grab something from the bottom shelf when he wants a snack and it has worked great with encouraging choice and independence. If he wants repeat snacks I remind him he had that for the day and can choose something else or I can get him something from the fridge which has also worked great for us.
We try to provide as much variety as we can when it comes to meals. We have found that for us, dinner is the best time to introduce something new or reintroduce something he wasn’t willing to try previously. We do not cook or make anything different for him if he doesn’t like something because we will only have one new item at a time during a meal. I have found that he is more willing to try something if his plate has items he already loves and it isn’t as overwhelming. I also try to offer variety with his breakfast, lunch and snacks to provide a good balance of nutrients and food groups.
4.Try It Different Ways
If our son didn’t like something the first time, we always reintroduce it but try cooking or making it a different way to see if his preference changes.
We have learned that we have to keep exposing different foods for our son to get to a point where he is comfortable trying it. He will never know if he likes something unless we keep offering it and exposing it.
BONUS: Model Eating Healthy/Balanced
There is so much power in modeling healthy eating habits to your children with your own choice! Our son is able to see that our eating isn’t that different than his and we all enjoy the same things as a family.