A child's eating environment may influence whether or not she will try new foods that you offer her*. Make mealtimes as pleasant and positive as you can. When eating dinner, turn off the TV so your child is not distracted and spend quality time talking with her. This is a great time to talk about the importance of trying new, healthy foods and to provide encouragement without making her feel pressured to eat (USDA, 2012; Ellyn Satter Institute, 2012).
Most likely, you’ve seen USDA’s new food guide, . I agree that it was high time to move away from the ancient pyramids. Choosing a plate as the new symbol of healthful eating makes a lot of sense. A plate suggests a meal; meals lead you to eating at regular intervals and more variety. But then come the rules telling you what and how much to put on your plate. They even tell you to “enjoy your food, but eat less.” In the end, MyPlate is the same old pyramid, just a new shape. Ellyn Satter had some advice for the policy makers (if only they would ask) in her .
It is normal for young children to reject foods they have never tried before. It is also common for children in this age group to prefer to eat the same foods every day. If the foods of choice are nutritious, continue to offer them along with other foods. Eventually your child will try other foods and learn to enjoy them too. The best way to encourage your preschooler to try new foods is to have them available. Above all, avoid power struggles. Children warm up slowly to new foods, and it can take 12 or more times of offering a new food before a young child learns to accept it (Ellyn Satter Institute, 2012). Be patient, offer new foods many times, and do not get upset if your child doesn’t take to a new food right away. Getting upset just makes you and your child more frustrated (USDA, 2012; USDA, n.d.; Ellyn Satter Institute, 2012). If you are concerned about your child's diet, talk to your pediatrician or family doctor, and follow the recommendations in this publication.
Let your child pick out new foods at the grocery store. Children are more likely to try a food if they make the selection. Head to the produce section and let your child suggest a new fruit or vegetable to purchase. Also let them help pick what you serve at the table and teach them to serve themselves by taking small amounts of each food at first (USDA, 2012; Ellyn Satter Institute, 2012).