So much of our energy at mealtimes is focused on WHAT we feed our little ones. Especially if we’re trying to help a picky eater try new foods and expand mealtime variety.
We analyze which foods they eat and take mental note of whether they are getting ‘enough’ – be it vitamins and minerals for nutrition, or calories for energy and growth.
There’s no shortage of reasons to think about WHAT foods go on the table.
Yet, if we want our little ones to try new foods, the HOW is just as important as the WHAT.
- How food is prepared (steamed, roasted, boiled, in sauce, no sauce, pureed, etc)
- How food is presented (chopped, strips, cubes, on toothpicks, balls, happy faces, etc)
- How much food we offer (portion sizes)
For today, let’s dive into the latter – how much.
Offering our little ones a new food seems like no big deal. To us at least. However for kids, new foods are a really BIG DEAL. They don’t quite know how it’s going feel in their mouth, what it’s going to taste like, how they will feel after they eat it, whether they can chew it or swallow it. It’s all new and completely foreign.
If you’re finding this valuable so far, take a peek at this “Picky Eating 101” Webinar. It’s free, so nothing to lose, yet SO MUCH to gain). You will walk away with the most effective ways to improve your child’s willingness to try new food. All are research-based strategies that do work – and you can start using right away.
The unknowns can be pretty scary for some kiddos. So we want to go slow and steady, and start small. Really small.
Let me explain.
I remember one of the first times I offered my daughter chickpeas. Sienna wasn’t a meat eater at that time (she found it hard to chew due to oral motor deficits) so I was always experimenting with alternate protein sources.
I threw a handful of The Good Bean roasted chickpeas on her plate with the expectation that she would try a few. But I should have know, expectations are dangerous with little ones. And you can probably guess what happened – she didn’t try one measly chickpea.
From her perspective, she saw this pile of foreign food and probably felt overwhelmed thinking “Ahhh, I have to eat ALL of this stuff I’ve never seen before?!”.
Well, hindsight is 20/20 right? While doing my research on children’s eating, I experimented with a different approach and change how I offered (and other new foods) – specifically how much I offered.
Instead of putting a small pile on her plate, I placed one teeny tiny lonesome chickpea in the bowl in front of her. And what do you know, she picked it up with her tiny fingers, put it on her lips, then into her mouth and CRUNCH. And one roasted chickpea turned into nine…who’s counting? 😉
Putting myself in her shoes, that lonely chickpea seemed much less daunting than a bowl full of the ‘stuff’. It was also small enough that it felt “safe” enough to put in her mouth and chew. And because it’s just one piece, she didn’t feel the pressure to eat more.
The next photo makes me a hypocrite. I put out the bowls for photos and of course, Sienna went for the pile of chickpeas.
At the next mealtime with your picky eater, try this:
Bring new foods to the table while thinking about the what AND how. That is the quality (aim for nutrient-dense foods where you can) AND quantity (make the portion size reasonable). As they say, less is more! Especially with picky eaters.
Next week we’ll talk about another “How” with 4 cheap and cheerful tools for introducing new foods.
Looking for more ways to improve your child’s willingness to try new foods?
You’ve got to join me for this FREE online workshop (aka webinar). We’ll talk about proven (evidence-based) strategies to help your child to eat those vegetables or other foods you’d LOVE to see them try.