How to Encourage Kids to Try New Foods

How to Encourage Kids to Try New Foods

Encouraging kids to try new foods can be a challenging yet rewarding task. It’s essential for their nutritional well-being and helps them develop a healthy relationship with food. Here are some strategies to make the process easier and more enjoyable for both kids and parents.

1. Create a Positive Mealtime Environment

Relaxed Atmosphere

  • Stress-Free: Keep mealtimes relaxed and free from pressure.
  • Positive Conversations: Focus on positive topics and avoid discussing food battles or picky eating.

Family Meals

  • Eat Together: Have family meals where everyone eats the same food.
  • Role Modeling: Parents and older siblings can model positive eating behaviors.

2. Involve Kids in Food Preparation

Grocery Shopping

  • Choice and Control: Let kids help pick out fruits, vegetables, and other healthy foods at the grocery store.
  • Explore New Foods: Encourage them to choose one new food item each shopping trip.

Cooking Together

  • Kitchen Helpers: Involve kids in cooking and preparing meals. They are more likely to try foods they helped make.
  • Simple Tasks: Assign age-appropriate tasks, like washing vegetables, stirring, or setting the table.

3. Make Trying New Foods Fun

Food Presentation

  • Creative Shapes: Cut foods into fun shapes or use cookie cutters.
  • Colorful Plates: Arrange food in colorful and visually appealing ways.

Themed Meals

  • Cultural Nights: Have themed meals featuring foods from different cultures.
  • Storytelling: Incorporate stories about the food’s origin or fun facts.

4. Introduce New Foods Gradually

Small Portions

  • Tiny Tastes: Offer small portions of new foods alongside familiar favorites.
  • No Pressure: Encourage tasting without forcing them to eat an entire serving.

Multiple Exposures

  • Repeated Exposure: Introduce new foods multiple times. It might take several tries before a child accepts a new food.
  • Variety: Rotate different foods to provide a variety of flavors and textures.

5. Use Positive Reinforcement

Praise and Encouragement

  • Positive Feedback: Praise kids for trying new foods, even if they just take a small bite.
  • Encouragement: Use positive language and encouragement rather than criticism.

Rewards and Incentives

  • Stickers and Charts: Use a reward system like stickers or charts to track new foods tried.
  • Special Privileges: Offer small rewards or privileges for trying new foods, such as choosing a family activity.

6. Educate About Nutrition

Teach About Food

  • Nutritional Benefits: Explain the benefits of different foods and how they help the body grow and stay healthy.
  • Interactive Learning: Use books, videos, or apps that teach kids about nutrition and healthy eating.

Involve in Meal Planning

  • Meal Ideas: Let kids suggest ideas for meals and snacks.
  • Balanced Choices: Teach them to plan balanced meals with a variety of food groups.

7. Be Patient and Persistent


  • Stay Calm: Remain patient and calm if your child refuses a new food.
  • Avoid Force: Never force a child to eat. Encourage and offer, but respect their preferences.


  • Regular Introduction: Keep offering new foods regularly without making a big fuss.
  • Routine: Establish a routine where trying new foods becomes a normal part of mealtimes.

8. Sneak in New Foods

Blend with Favorites

  • Mixed Dishes: Incorporate new foods into dishes your child already likes, such as adding vegetables to pasta or smoothies.
  • Hide in Recipes: Sneak new foods into familiar recipes, like pureeing vegetables into sauces or soups.

Flavor Pairing

  • Pair with Favorites: Serve new foods with a favorite dip or sauce.
  • Mild Flavors: Start with milder flavors before moving on to more distinct or strong-tasting foods.

9. Encourage Peer Influence

Social Eating

  • Playdates: Arrange playdates or meals with friends who are good eaters.
  • School Influence: Encourage trying new foods at school if peers are doing the same.

Group Meals

  • Family Gatherings: Use family gatherings as opportunities to introduce new foods.
  • Positive Peer Pressure: Positive peer influence can encourage kids to try foods they see others enjoying.

10. Respect Preferences

Listen to Feedback

  • Respect Tastes: Respect your child’s likes and dislikes. Understand that it’s okay for them not to like everything.
  • Feedback: Ask for feedback on what they did or didn’t like about a new food.

Gradual Acceptance

  • No Pressure: Avoid pressuring or punishing children for not trying new foods.
  • Encouragement: Continue to gently encourage trying new foods over time.


Encouraging kids to try new foods requires patience, creativity, and persistence. By creating a positive and relaxed mealtime environment, involving kids in food preparation, making trying new foods fun, and using positive reinforcement, parents can help their children develop a healthy and adventurous approach to eating. Remember that every child is different, so be flexible and adjust your strategies to find what works best for your family.

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