Research indicates that children are more likely to try new food if they feel like they are in safe environment. Three tips to keep meals fun and safe:
- Empower children to feel in control at meal time. Let children serve themselves. If you are offering something new, remind them that they can take a small bite so try it and always take more. Use fun plates and bowls for new foods. Incorporate a family tradition into meal time, like counting the number of colors served in the meal, or talking about the highlight of the day. Don’t reward children for eating vegetables with dessert.
- Never force a child to take a bite or “finish their plate.” Trust their own internal hunger cues and teach them to listen to their hunger cues. If they say they are done, listen.
- Create and enforce basic table manners. Remind children to say “please” and “thank you” when asking for food or passing it. Challenge them to come up with other words to describe what they are eating – salty? Mushy? Slimy? The only word that is off limits is “yucky.” If children don’t like something, remind them to keep it to themselves and don’t force them to eat it.
For more on how to encourage your children to eat more vegetables, check out this article in the HuffPost, “If You Can Teach Your Kids to Brush Their Teeth, You Can Teach Them to Eat Vegetables” by First Bites Founder, Caron Gremont.
First Bites is a non-profit organization that runs programs in preschools and early childcare centers to get kids excited about eating fruits and vegetables. To learn more about the program and for more ideas on what and how to feed children, visit firstbites.org, Facebook.com/YourFirstBites or follow us on Twitter @FirstBites.