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Wednesday, July 24, 2013

How to get your picky eater to try new foods?

My son, who is usually very good about trying different foods, is currently going through a phase that is making him very picky about what he will eat or if he will even eat for that matter. He went through a similar phase when he was 16 months or so. His doctor suggested that I keep some finger food at unexpected places like his book shelf or near his toy box. If he accidentally discovers it, he will be curious to try it. To my surprise, the trick worked like a charm. After all, everything new that a 16 month finds usually goes in his mouth. I was skeptical if this would work with him at this age.

Recently our friends visited us for dinner with their almost 3 years old son, who has always been a very picky eater. He did not try anything I had cooked for dinner. Instead, he ate his usual that his mom carried from home.  But when he started playing with the homemade play dough I had put out for them, he was very quick and enthusiastic to put that in his mouth and tried it even when his mom tried to stop him. He happily observed that it was too sour to his taste. This encouraged me to try my son’s doctor’s trick once again.

As luck would have it, I had checked out the Boo Boo book from the library. Boo Boo by Oliver Dunrea is a cute addition to his book series involving three Goslings. This book is about a Gosling who loves to eat everything. The attractive illustrations and use of very few words makes it a perfect picture book for babies who can sit and look at a book to preschoolers who enjoy pictures as well as the story. Most preschoolers I have read it to, including my 3 year old find it very funny. 

After reading it a few times with my son. I set up a treasure hunt for food. We were going to look for different animals and eat their food just like Boo Boo. I had hidden very small portions of corn, peas, steamed beets, boiled peanuts, carrots, cherry tomatoes, banana slices, strawberries and grapes, all over the house. When he found carrots, it was rabbit’s food and corn was chicken’s food. Basically, I just made it up. I obviously don’t know which animal digs eating beets. He ate them all just like Boo Boo did. He had been refusing to eat most of those things when offered at meal time. Some of these items were favorites in the past but he wouldn’t touch them any more until we did the Boo Boo inspired treasure hunt for food.
I think the trick here is to keep the portions really small like only couple slices of banana or only 2-3 peanuts etc. And for every new item you want her to try keep 2 items that she already likes. This activity can work for kids as young as 15 months to even 5-7 year olds. And even if you don’t have a picky eater on your hand this will make for a very fun snack time.
I am very happy to report that, since this treasure hunt my son has a new found love for peanuts and he is at least giving carrots a chance when coaxed to do so.
Have any tricks of your own to garner a little foodie?
 
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