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12 Ways to Get Your Toddler to Try New Foods

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Toddlers are notoriously picky eaters, which can be endlessly frustrating to moms—especially when it seems they're always turning up their noses at the healthiest picks on the plate. Don't despair. Instead, try these tricks to get your little one sampling some new foodstuffs.

1. Serve New Foods First

toddler eating some food in his high chair

Everything looks and tastes better to a kid who's genuinely hungry. Make sure you're offering new foods and flavors at the start of a meal, when your little one might not be able to resist sampling it.

2. Offer "Mousey" Bites

a toddler eating a banana

It's unlikely a picky eater is going to happily dig into a plateful of some new, foreign food. But a tiny serving, of which he only needs to take a "mouse-sized bite"? You could be successful with that approach.

3. Utilize Peer Pressure

a bunch of toddlers eating their lunch

Want your little one to start snacking on kale chips? Offer them as the treat at his next playdate. If you can get his friends to gobble up the snack du jour, you're more likely to have luck with your tot. Or ask your mom friends to pass around your snack as if it were theirs. We all know toddlers seem to find everyone else's snacks more interesting than what mom is offering!

4. Make It Fun

watermelon with smile on white wooden background

Get creative with the presentation of new foods and your little one could be persuaded to try a few bites. Make faces out of food, cut fruit and veggies into different shapes, make pancakes into faces with cookie cutters. Try serving bite-sized food your toddler can spear with toothpicks. Get fun plates with compartments and cups with silly twisty straws.

5. Hide the Veggies

a toddler being fed vegetables

Most toddlers harbor a deep-seated distrust of veggies, especially green ones. Sometimes the best way to sneak them into your little one's diet is to hide them amongst other, beloved foods.   Throw some carrots into a berry smoothie, tuck tiny bits of spinach into a quesadilla, bury chopped veggies in baked eggs and cheese. You can also add wheat germ and ground flax seed to waffles and pancakes, make fruit-veggie muffins, and add pureed pumpkin to mac and cheese. Someday you can reveal your food concoctions to your tiny eater, but for now, mum's the word!

6. Serve It Their Style

a little girl with spaghetti all over her face

Some kids prefer plain food—noodles separate from sauce separate from meat. For these toddlers, a new food should be offered on its own. Others don't mind it all mixed together, making it easier to slip in a new flavor. Consider your little one's preferences and what's worked in the past.

7. Use Reverse Psychology

A young girl eating grapes out of a bowl

By now you've figured out that reverse psychology can be the parent of a toddler's best friend. Your little one is anxious for control, so tagging a food as off-limits or something he wouldn't possibly eat (No way you'll try that broccoli, Aiden!), can have the opposite effect. Be wary of using this one too much though; some kids catch on quickly!

8. Keep Trying

Toddler refusing food

Maybe your toddler isn't up for trying tuna today, but don't write it off forever. Experts say kids might need to be offered a food up to 10 times before they'll eat it--prepared differently each time. It can be frustrating, but the only way they'll ever try it is to keep offering it!

9. Add Some Sprinkles

a pile of sprinkles

Kids adore sprinkles. Break out the shaker and add a few to whatever you're offering, and see if your little one can resist sampling some. It doesn't take many sprinkles to make a big impact, but it could be a trick you return to over and over!

10. Try It Yourself

mom and baby eating together

No way your little one is going to eat cauliflower if you actively avoid the stuff yourself. Make sure you're being a good role model and eating a variety of foods. Be enthusiastic about the new foods you're serving, and try to avoid voicing your dislike of any healthy foods.

11. Don't Forget the Flavor

a girl eating jello in her chair

Adults might munch plain steamed veggies to save calories, but your tot is probably hankering for a little more flavor (and he's not afraid of some fat!). A little butter, cheese, gravy, or other sauce can transform bland food into something more kid-friendly.

12. Offer Things to Dip

Fresh vegetables in clear glasses and white dip

Dipping food into sauces turns the chore of eating into a fun game for kids (why do you think so many adore ketchup on everything?). Offer apple slices to dip into plain yogurt swirled with cinnamon, and pita chips with a side of hummus. Serve tomato sauce in a bowl for little hands to dunk pieces of chicken. And cut-up veggies gain a lot more appeal when your toddler can fly them into a side of ranch!

 
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