Getting Children to Try New Foods

It is common for children to dislike a new food when it is first introduced. Children tend to like foods that are already familiar to them and dislike foods that are unfamiliar to them, which is a normal part of development. Although it may seem like your child is a fussy eater, he or she may just need to become more familiar with the food before he or she decides to try it.

Introduce new foods to children when they are young. Children are more likely to accept new foods when they are younger. It is more difficult to get children to accept new foods beyond toddlerhood.

Tips to encourage children to try a new food:

  • Try pairing the new food with a food they already like or with which they are familiar. For babies, try adding breastmilk or formula to pureed foods. For older children, try pairing a new vegetable with a dip they already like.
  • Role modeling. Children are more likely to try a new food if they see an adult eating the same food. Encourage your child to describe the food (e.g., “This carrot is crunchy”).
  • Provide a variety of foods. Children are more likely to have a varied and balanced diet later in life if they are introduced to a variety of foods, tastes, and textures during weaning and in early childhood. Your child should eat a variety of foods because he or she gets different nutrients from different foods. Fruits and vegetables are particularly important because children’s diets are usually low in these nutritious foods.
  • Try introducing new foods at snack time. This may be a good time to introduce other foods from the same food group or similar foods. For instance, provide a snack of 2-3 different fruits or vegetables from which your child can choose.

Remember – don’t give up too soon! It can take 8-10 tries before your child accepts a new food. Although your child might make facial expressions that show dislike for the food, he or she may still be willing to eat it. Continue to provide opportunities for him or her to taste the food and other foods within that food group.