Be a positive role model
Kids will often follow your lead and are more likely to enjoy a variety of foods if you do.
- Eat as a family so other family members can act as role models
- Praise self-feeding skills, but maintain a neutral attitude about your child's food intake
- Never pressure your child to eat
- Don't beg, plead, or bargain with your child to try something
- Avoid distractions such as toys, books, tablets, or TV during meals
- If a food is rejected by your child, don’t get hung up on it and try again another day
Establish a family routine
Regular meal and snack times help establish a healthy eating routine:
- Offer three meals a day and snacks in between because children need the sustained energy
- Try to always feed your child in a high chair or at a table
- Encourage your child to eat what the family is eating, even if it's a small amount, rather than cooking a separate meal for him or her
Involve your child
Pick recipes, grocery-shop, and cook with your kid — children are more likely to eat the food they participated in preparing and you'll have help in the kitchen!With a toddler:
With a preschooler:
- Introduce new foods at the grocery store
- Add pre-measured ingredients to recipes
- Stir ingredients
- Measure and weigh ingredients
- Describe tastes, smells, and textures of the meal
- Help with food plating
Be portion savvy
Start with small portions and let them ask for more. When introducing new foods, give your kid a choice about which new food he or she is going to try and make sure to couple it with a favourite.
- Serve age-appropriate foods and portions
- Introduce new foods one at a time
- Teach eating to fullness by serving small portions and offering a new helping when the previous one is consumed
Make mealtime fun
Play with foods — serve a sandwich in the shape of a heart or use food to make fun faces or animals on your child's plate.
- Encourage independent feeding and tolerate age-appropriate messiness
- Forget the “Clean Plate Club” and encourage your child to try new foods when ready
- Present new foods in various forms; for example, some vegetables can be introduced cooked, raw, in soups, or in smoothies. The more often your child is exposed to a new food, the more likely he or she will be to eat it willingly.