There are children out there that will eat pretty much everything. I know this is true because I was one of those children. My own children, well, let’s just say they don’t take after their mother. Because of this, I continue striving to expand their food repertoire. There is no one way that works, and everything is hit or miss.
1) Get the kids involved in the recipe/menu selection process. This allows them to take some ownership in the food preparation process from the very beginning. And, when that inevitable, "I don’t like that," spews forth, it allows you to ask them why they don’t like it. With my kids, many times those ‘I don’t like it’ items have never actually been tasted. I’m able to get buy-in sometimes, though, when I can list ingredients for this ‘Icky’ recipe that they like. Basically, if you like what’s IN it, you should like IT.
2) Have the kids help you cook. This goes back to the whole ownership thing. If the food is something they made, they’re more likely to be willing to try it. Now, you’ll notice I said ‘more likely’; Alex, Soph and I cook together a lot and they do not eat everything they make. I’ve heard, ‘Mom, we made it for you’ many times. BUT, it has worked on occasion, plus, cooking with the kiddies is fun! 😀
3) Sell it. By sell it, I mean make the food sound so irresistible they WANT to try it. Since I basically like all food, I genuinely feel bad for Alex and Soph when they miss out on foods I know they’d like just because they assume they ‘don’t like it.’ So, I tell them what they’re missing and how delicious it is. And, really, ONE bite, just to see…well isn’t that worth it? This method is more successful when one of the kids is on-board with trying to get the other to try it too. I guess they trust each other’s taste over mine.
4) Bribe them. Yes, I said bribe them, and I’ve advocated for food bribery before, and I’m sure I will again. For as little as 25 cents I’ve not only persuaded Alex and Soph to try food, but also have gotten them to discover that they like it. I say that is excellent ROI.
5). Keep on trying. The important thing, in my experience anyway, is to keep trying. Just like the repetition of practice ‘makes perfect,’ continuing to encourage kids to taste all kinds of food will expand their palette.
Like I said, these are only things that may work. Kids are strange creatures, resisting things that they may actually love based purely on one characteristic that doesn’t fit into their ideal of the moment. Trying new things, food or experiences, help kids learn and figure out what they like, need and want in this world. And I, as a Mom, promise to do my best, be it bribery or marketing, to help them grow.