We learn to like new foods through repeated exposure. To acquire taste preferences, children often need to taste a new food many times, many ways.
Your child might need to see a certain food many times before they agree to taste it. They may need to smell or touch it first. They might also need to see other people eat it and enjoy it.
Kids can find new foods intimidating. The more exposure your children have to various foods, the less intimidated they will be by new flavours, textures or smells. This is why involving children in the kitchen is so important. They are getting some of that exposure by handling food, helping with the groceries and cooking. Talk about food, share what makes them interesting, nutritious and delicious!
Children who are anxious about trying new foods don’t like surprises on their plate. It’s a good idea to introduce the meal before it’s time to eat it. You can ask your child to help cook dinner, even if it is stirring the pot for a minute, adding an ingredient, or taste testing.
If you already do this, you may be wondering why your child is still refusing to eat certain foods, despite the exposure. It’s important to know that the only way to acquire taste preferences is to taste. Putting it on the plate isn’t enough, so it’s important to encourage tasting.
Did you know? A child may need to taste a food up to 14 times before they like it!
They say that doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results is the definition of insanity. If your child has always refused to eat cheese, for instance, it would be crazy to think that putting cheese on their plate will result in them eating it, right? Or if they have tasted it 10 times and still dislike it, you wouldn’t expect that they will suddenly like it? In fact, repeated exposure and persistence are essential to expanding your child’s diet and creating new eating habits. It sometimes pays to be a little crazy!