Getting a preschooler to try new foods can be difficult. By the preschool years, your child has developed his personal taste and preferences for certain foods, and will be resistant to trying new things. The best way to make your child more likely to try new foods is to present them often, so that trying new things becomes common. To increase your chances of success, be sure to choose the right time to offer a new food. Your child’s likelihood of eating something new depends on a number of factors, and timing is an important one!
Hungry, But Not Too Hungry
It seems logical to think that a hungry kid is more likely to give something new a try; and overall, it’s an accurate assumption. But beware of serving new foods to a kid who is too hungry. If your ravenous little one comes to the table and sees something he doesn’t recognize it could cause more meltdown than compliance.
Try offering new foods when your child is hungry but not really starving. A kid who just needs to eat something doesn’t want to encounter a food he has to think about. You do want him hungry enough to be willing to eat what’s in front of him, however, and this can be a fine balance. Don’t try new foods if dinner is late to the table or you have been really busy or rushed that day. Aim for days when the schedule is more relaxed, and the new food is served on time.
Too Tired, Too Cranky
Gauge your child’s mood before deciding whether it’s a good time for a new experience. A tired or cranky child is unlikely to eat a new food. If she missed her nap that day, or woke up unusually early, it might not be a good day. Try to avoid days where her routine has been disrupted by unusual activities such as a visit to the doctor’s office. Disruptions to the daily schedule can make your little one cranky and unwilling to cooperate with yet another new experience.
Don’t offer new foods when your child isn’t feeling well. She probably won’t be in the mood to try, and especially if her little tummy isn’t quite right, it isn’t a great idea to put something new into it.
The Best Time of Day
Is your preschooler a morning person? Or more chipper around dinner? Look for the time of day when she is most open, happy, and compliant to introduce new foods. If your child often wakes up happy, try to introduce new foods at breakfast. If she is decidedly not a morning person, it’s better to keep breakfast a little more routine.
Dinner is often a good time to introduce new foods because it is the meal where a family is most likely to sit down and eat together. This means that your preschooler will have the opportunity to see her parents and siblings giving the new fare a try, which will encourage her to do the same.
A child who is in a good mood, well rested, and hungry but not ravenous is a child more likely to give something new a shot. Serve up new foods at the best time of day and with the best timing during the week for your child; this will be individual to each preschooler, so don’t worry about what other parents are doing. Pick the time that works best for your child.