Adventures in Healthier Eating with 2 Kids and a Picky Husband

Kids and New Foods (The Foundation)

Posted by 9 years ago 16 Comments

My son is about the age of your son. How do you get him to try new foods? I wish my child ate as well as yours. Love the site!

Hi Rene!

What a GREAT question! This topic is near and dear to my heart as I set a goal to NOT have a picky child and I’ve been blessed with just that. I don’t know if I have all the answers as not all kids are the same. All I can do is share with you what strategies I used and how I introduced new foods to my little guy.

First, I breast fed. I’m not sure if it had a bearing on his eating habits but it was very important for me to do so. I set a goal of 6 months and the toddler, well, the “baby’s”, main source of nutrition was breast milk until 8 months. At around 6 months I mixed whole grain infant cereal made with breast milk and offered him a little at meal times. Most of it didn’t actually go down but I thought it would be a good way to introduce new textures. Not long after, I started on pureed vegetables while still nursing a bit and offering the cereal.

I believed in not only introducing new foods and textures at that young age but I’m a firm believer in allowing the little ones to play with their food. I dug this video out of our home movie collection. This is the toddler at about 6 and 1/2 months cute and messy, just the way he should be. :~)

As you can see, nothing made it into his mouth, but I think it was a good way to lay the foundation of an experimental eater.

As the baby grew into the toddler, I focused on offering him the same foods that I was eating. In the beginning he ate a lot of pureed vegetable and fruits but very early I started offering cut up banana, canned carrots, peas and green beans. These were all soft enough I didn’t have to worry about chocking yet they gave him a chance to feel independent and try new textures.

Soft fruits and veggies soon turned into beans, halved grapes, cubed cheese omelets, cut up grilled cheese on whole grain and, if you believe it, corn on the cob. I stood firm on the “he eats what we eat” rule and when he was too young for the solids I’d puree our meals in the blender.

He didn’t always like what he was given but when he was young enough I didn’t care (actually, I still don’t). I remember one meal (he was about 7-8 months) he was eating jarred peas and jarred peaches. Every time we gave him the peas he make a face and vocally show his displeasure. I knew if that was all he was given he’d start spitting it out, so I started to alternate the peaches in so he didn’t know what to expect. Two scoops of peaches, 1 of peas, then 1 peach, 2 peas, 1 peach, 1 pea and so on. He never knew what to expect and every time he got the peas he’d yell, it was hysterical! I turned it into a game, and he ended up eating the whole jar of peas! (I swear I have this on video but I can’t find it!)

All in all, I wasn’t afraid to let him try things at a young age. I really think that is the key along with involving him in the food process, of course! I remember putting on a cooking show for him sitting in the bouncer on the island while I made my homemade sauce one Sunday morning. He has always been in the kitchen with me, involved in the meal preparation not just a recipient of the meal. I think that has made a HUGE difference in his willingness to try new foods.

Now that he is older and much more independent, I try to keep healthy snacks available and he (most of the time) asks and wants the good stuff for snacks. There are times (like tonight) were we have a handful of Swedish fish or a candy necklace, but I’m confident, at this point, that the occasional sugary snack is not going to kill him especially considering his overall diet is probably better then most adults! Overall my philosophy is everything in moderation except fruits in veggies, they should be in excess!

If you’re curious, at meal times he gets a mini plate of what we are eating. Does he eat it all and like everything? No, of course not, but (again, most of the time) he tries it. He’ll now tell me when he doesn’t like something and I respect it, just asking him to take one more bite before he leaves the dinner table. It NORMALLY works.

I hope that helps, as I said, this is just my experiences as a mom trying her best. It wasn’t always easy, but having a plan and sticking to it helps a bunch. Good luck and don’t get too frustrated!


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There are 16 comments so far. Join in on the conversation.


    June 7, 2008

    great post! Im such a picky eater (read: Ill eat ANYTHING if it mightcould hurt someone's feelings if I dont---but beyond THAT Im a plain eater) that I, too, and hoping and working not to have my daughter be a mini-me. so far? she's not all that picky she just can often 'take or leave EATING in general' :) I love this Roni as it goes BEYOND this post and food in general: this is just my experiences as mom trying her best. have a great weekend.


    June 7, 2008

    I have to say Ryan is a GREAT eater!!! At my house- after lunch my children get snacks- usually granola bars. When Ryan is here he always asks for fruit or pudding. You have done a good job raising a healthy eater! We always make our children try anything new on their plates. Ethan loves clams- yes clams?! Who knew?? If they don't like it they don't have to eat it, but they at least need to try it. See you soon!

    Super Healthy Kids

    June 7, 2008

    I am a firm believer, the earlier, the better to introduce stuff. And then offering it over and over and over. It has taken my children YEARS and I mean years of offering the same foods over and over before they truly like it. I didn't like avocado's till I was an adult, but I remember my parents offering it to me all the time.


    June 7, 2008

    I heard one mom (somewhere, I can't remember) tell her kids they have to take 3 bites of something new that they didn't like. One bite for their tastebuds, one bite for their stomach and one bite for their brain. After each bite, mom would ask the kids "how did the tastebuds like it? What about the tummy and brain?" If, after all three body parts that are involved in eating still didn't like the new food, they didn't have to eat it. This mom said after the 3rd bite, the kids usually started to like the food and would continue to eat it. maybe that will help some of you!


    June 7, 2008

    Hi Roni, This is a fantastic post! I am one person who is least picky when it comes to eating food and my husband happens to be exactly the opposite. I don't have children yet, but believe me I really don't want them to be picky like their dad. I have always admired Ryan's eating habits and this post gives me a lot of relief. I always believed that having a picky parent affects the child eating habits a lot ,but ultimately exposing them to various tastes and textures is what's important I guess. Keeping my fingers crossed!!


    June 7, 2008

    I've got 6 non-picky eaters. We have always offered whatever we were eating too. We were at a friend's house one day and later my daughter who was about 4 asked why the bread was so white. She'd always had whole wheat so it seemed really odd to her. I agree that you just keep offering things. And if it is what is in the house, then that's what we have. My kids always go to the fruit bowl or the yogurt for snacks. I love that.


    June 7, 2008

    My oldest is a "Ryan" too and I get such a kick out of watching you two interact on your videos! I agree with your tactic of he eats what the family eats. I try, for the most part, to do that. But, I also feel like every kids is completely different. I handled my son the same way as I'm handling my daughter with regard to foods. And, my son eats everything. My daughter is the pickiest person in our family and crosses off something new she won't eat on her list every day. The stubborn gene is also really bad in our family and my daughter will not eat dinner and go to bed without eating versus having to eat chicken, a vegetable or you name it. So, I try to make something with every meal that she WILL eat. Sometimes she has to have a few bites of her meat or something else she doesn't like to GET that thing she likes, but this seems to be a good comprimise and also lets her know she's eating what we serve and that's it.


    June 7, 2008

    I am a nutrition student studying to become a lactation consultant. In our studies, we learn that when children are breast fed, they tend to to be non picky eaters. This is especially true when the mom eats a variety of foods while breast feeding. BTW, I love your site, keep up the GREAT work!! We all appreciate it!


    June 7, 2008

    Both my boys have grown up to enjoy all food. I was like you, they ate what the the rest of the family ate. I told them they had to try everything even if they thought they didn't like it. "your tastebuds are always changing" This bit me in the butt more than once. I dislike cooked carrots. My kids said "you have to try one bite, your tastebuds change" Do you know how many restaurants serve cooked carrots??? LOL I have tried them every way possible. It paid off big time for us though.


    June 8, 2008

    I have friends ask me the same question. My three girls eat everything. I also let them try whatever they wanted when they were little, so I think that has something to do with it. I also think that fact the my husband and I like just about every food there is also helped. We always took the kids to nice restaurants when they were little, so they were exposed to gourmet food at a young age. When they were as young as five they would ask for flounder stuffed with crabmeat or filet mignon! Now they love just about any food from seafood, sushi, vegies (they fight over who gets the bigger half of the acorn squash)!!


    June 8, 2008

    I never made the breastfeeding connection before. I nursed both my boys for a year and neither is a picky eater (though 2 of my nephews were also bf and are very picky, who knows really?) We've also always offered them the same meal we are eating and they have to try at least 2 bites of something they don't like. Well, my nearly 4 year old does, my 2 year old doesn't quite get it yet, but we still offer him bites. They love some things I never thought toddlers/preschoolers would like: fish, shrimp, beets, brussel sprouts. But, my older son doesn't like tomatoes, olives, any salad type stuff and brocolli-all things that other kids seem to love.


    June 9, 2008

    I have 2 soens; one who will eat just about everything ( he hates avocado and brown beans but will eat just about everything else!) and the other is EXTREMELY fussy. He will eat any and all veggies; his fave is brussel sprouts. He will eat any meat, as long as it doesn't have any kind of sauce on it. Same with noodle, rice, pasta, etc. No sauce. Neither of my boys were breast fed due to severe jaundice (research shows that breastfed, premature boys with a family history are most susceptible.) My eldest was breastfed until he got so dehydrated and jaundiced that the doctor said, "this kid needs formula". I was so scared that it would happen again for the second time around that I automatically chose formula. We have lots of fruit and fresh veggies in the house. The boys never cared about chips or other "bad" snacks until they started school. Now, they have baked chips in their lunches. They do not get sodas unless we are eating out. They drink tons of water. The youngest is required to try things but always acts as if he hates them. We keep presenting them to him though.


    June 9, 2008

    Great Post! . I have 2 great eaters and I give credit to a smart pediatrician. As a new mom he told me that children will not allow theselves to starve and that he recommended the same meal for everyone approach. In return, they get to plan dinner one night a week (must have a protien and a veggie) and the adults eat it too. THere have been many a Friday nights when I have eaten PB&J with canned green beans because that is what they chose. I am also a huge fan of "funky" dips - we make red pepper puree for pork, various fruit jelly dips for appropriate meats, and yougart dips - my kids love it and it has epanded their palatte!


    June 10, 2008

    This is very similar to my almost 2 year old. He'll try anything once. If he doesn't like it he'll swallow, shake his head and say 'no'. For us, the key has been to be nuetral about food. We don't reward him with sugary treats and there is no finish your peas and you can have ice cream. The other day he ate baked salmon and spinach salad. It makes my life a lot easier!


    June 12, 2008

    My kids were extremely different. My oldest loved vegetables and would eat anything. My youngest, though also breastfed and raised at the same table, would suck the cheese off a pea and spit it out. With time and persistence, though, he's also become a very good eater. We always offer fruits and vegetables at meals and snacks. We make an adventure out of trying new foods. The other day, we all tried fresh artichokes for the first time. The kids (6 & 3) had a blast scraping the leaves against their teeth and thought the furry part was hilarious. It was a proud mommy moment. I think being a good example is key. We had fun with it so they did as well.


    June 15, 2008

    Great post! I am a firm believer that kids should at least "try" everything the adult is eating. I am looking forward to making baby food from what we eat as well. She is still at the breastfed stage. The only difficulty right now is my husband is a very picky eater so I have to work on him now too. I tihnk its much easier to start from an early age, even breastfed. I sometimes eat alone of differnt things from my husband and have made it a priority to eat more veggies and differnt items such as salmon etc. to expose her to differnt flavors (supposedly the milk has a differnt flavor to it while being breastfed, plus it starts me doing the right thing now rather than later). My goal is to become a more healthy and diverse eater for myself and my dughter.