It’s hard to get kids to try anything new, especially when it comes to food.
A lot of parents, myself included, aren’t always sure how to get their kids to try new foods, save from forcing them, from dealing with a whole lot of whining or crying, or dealing with stubborn–sometimes even scared–kids.
My own Maddy, Owen, and Cora went through periods when they only wanted to eat buttered pasta dry Cheerios or to drink milk in their very own very own sippy cup and would take no substitutions whatsoever.
So a few years ago, when I noticed things were getting crazy, I decided to start New For Us Fridays.
I wanted a reason for our family to try new things–new activities, ideas, foods, and games. And for the last three years, we’ve had a blast trying a ton of new and cool things.
And where it’s been especially helpful is with getting our family to try new foods.
I love it.
Here’s the skinny. . .
- How to Get Your Kids to Try New Foods: There’s no magic ‘food-trying pill’ so don’t get your hopes up.
Rather, getting kids to be excited to try new things can be a whole-family project. And starting simple, with very inexpensive items that can be found at almost any grocery store, is a great place to begin.
And if families look at the idea of a New For Us Friday food as a game–something exciting, like a contest!–before you know it, the whole family will be sold.
Here are a few steps to introducing the idea to your family:
1. Find something. Start by taking kids to the grocery store. Instead of speeding by the produce section and reaching for the usual apples, oranges, or bananas, really look at what’s there.
Say, Wow! I’ve never seen this fruit before (as you’re holding something new and unusual). It’s called an [insert name] and it comes from [read the information card above the fruit]. I wonder what it tastes like. One day I’d like to try it.
Then move on to your usual grocery shopping.
2. Find it again. The next time you’re at the store, swing by that same crazy new-for-you fruit and say, You know what? Today I’m feeling a little adventurous. I think I’ll take another look at this [strange and unusual fruit from the last trip] but this time I’d like to actually taste it. I wonder if it’s sweet or sour, juicy or crispy?
Then throw it in your cart or hand it to your child to hold while you shop.
3. Research. At home, do a little research on that fruit. Sit down with your child and google it. Talk through the whole process: Hey sweetheart. Let’s do a little research on [insert new strange and unusual fruit]. I’m going to type the name of the fruit into the search box on the computer and see if it tells me anything about it. I’m not sure exactly how to cut it, so I need to learn a bit.
Perhaps this ‘research’ can be done before you sit down with your child so you can check out the sites to make sure they are reliable and not crazy, scary spammy, but if you don’t have the prep time, no worries. Only click on sites you know to be valid or have checked out and deem ‘child safe’.
If there’s a YouTube video on how to cut the fruit, how to wash it, or how to prepare it, view it together. If there’s a recipe you find to prepare the food, follow it together. If there’s any way to involve your kids in the process, let. them. in.
4. Try it! Make a really big deal of trying it together. If everyone eats dinner together one or two nights a week, choose to try it on one of those nights. If the whole family’s involved, then your kiddos will see first-hand how important it is for every family member to try something new–no matter the age.
(As long as you make sure the food is safe for everyone to eat and no one is allergic, of course!)
5. Celebrate! Tell the kids that a ‘new try’ doesn’t count until each person has had three real bites and then high five when they’ve all had three bites. And figure out a great way for your family to celebrate and keep track of your own New For Us Fridays–by adding your new foods to the chart below or by another way that works for your family.
Need some great New For Us Friday food ideas? Here are a few of ours:
But when we make it exciting, fun, and a regular part of you family’s life, kids may become more eager foodies and mealtime may become an extra-exciting part of your day.
Way back in May of 2009, when the whole New For Us Fridays started, I had no idea of how long we’d do it or of how much fun we’d have along the way. Food is only one small part of this ‘movement’ for our family, and I look forward to a few other New For Us Friday round-ups in the next few weeks.
For us, the basics hold true:
One of the things most parents strive for with their children is consistency–with daily routines, with enforcement of rules, and with just about everything. We’re all, by nature, creatures of habit, which isn’t always a bad thing. Except when our kids get sooo stuck in the norm that it’s hard to get them to try new things.
That’s where New For Us Fridays comes in–it’s my teeny-tiny attempt at getting this crew of mine to step out of the box and to try new things. It’s healthy, it’s fun, and it makes each week a little bit of an adventure, so that’s why I’m starting it now–summer’s around the corner, and there’s a ton of fun to be had.
Each week, I’m going to try to introduce something new to my family–new foods, new activities, new challenges–and I’ll share them here. I’m always on the lookout for ideas, so feel free to send them my way–and to share them with us!
Do you have any New For Us Friday suggestions? I’d love to hear ’em!