For some children getting acquainted to new flavors is more difficult than to others. The child may be prejudiced and picky about their food even though the rest of the family eats everything.
Research shows that taste sensations are stronger with some people and thus it is very individual what kind of sensations the child experiences related to food. One might find currants very sour while another might find them refreshing..
How can you encourage a child to taste?
- Involve the child in cooking. Even a small child can wash potatoes, slice cucumber, or mix dough. It is easier to taste when you are allowed to take part in cooking and familiarizing yourself with the foods using all of your senses: smelling, perhaps licking, touching, cutting, and hearing. How does carrot sound like?
- Compliment the child on taking part in cooking. Through compliments and encouragement the child learns better than through forcing, and also new things may start to run smoothly: “You did a great job setting the table and tearing the lettuce.”
- Serve new foods clearly as their own entities. For example vegetables taste better as finger food than as mixed salad. You can serve a new dish with pasta or potatoes so there is a familiar element aside the new one.
- Set an example of versatile eating and enjoyable table discussions. The dining table is not the place for interrogation or sorrow: it is important to keep the discussion pleasant. “What was best about your day?”
A picky child requires lots of patience and encouragement from the parents. When offered persistently, new foods will gradually become familiar and every now and then make their way into the mouth. Patience will be rewarded in the long run and the child will learn skills related to eating for many years to come.
Have fun with food and enjoy cooking up new flavors!
Author: Anne Kuusisto