“No, no, no!” “I don’t want that!” “I want something else!”
Are these lines all too familiar? Has mealtime become somewhat like a warzone wherein the only foods allowed are fairy bread or chicken nuggets?
We’ve all been there and trust us – there’s a way to get children to eat new (and healthier!) food. Here are our tried and tested methods.
1. Keep things fun
You know the saying “you eat with your eyes first”? This is especially true with children! At our child care centres, we’ve found that children are more eager to try food when presented in a fun manner like multi-coloured fruits and veg or food cut into fun shapes.
Presenting food in interesting ways can make food more appealing even to the pickiest of eaters. The professional chefs at our Little Zak’s centres always challenge themselves to come up with creative ways to plate our children’s dishes.
2. Let them get hands-on
Children are sensory learners so if they get a little messy during mealtime, let them! When they pick at their food, smell it and toss it around, it’s their way of discovering this entirely new dish given to them. The more familiar they are with it, the less foreign and scary it will be to them, and the more likely they are to eat it.
In fact, bring your children into the kitchen so they experience every step of food preparation with you. At Little Zak’s Academy, we offer weekly Zak’s Kitchen activities wherein our children get to prepare their own food. We’ve found that children are more eager to eat food they’ve prepared themselves!
3. Stick to the rotation rule
Children love variety so don’t get into the habit of serving the same thing over and over again. This just gets them used to the idea of only eating a certain type of food and resisting anything else that comes along. Mixing things up breaks your children’s habits of expecting certain dishes.
At Little Zak’s Academy, we operate on a 4-week rotational menu to give our children a wide variety of dishes they can try.
4. Avoid making dessert a reward
It’s tempting to use desserts or treats as a reward for eating something new but this only creates a bigger problem. By making dessert a reward, you’re only putting the focus on desserts or treats, making your children more eager to eat that than their actual meal.
5. Try and try again
The most important tip of all: try, try and try again. Studies show that it takes 11 tries before a child gets used to eating something new so don’t give up! Just keep trying to get them to