8 Tips for Raising an Adventurous Eater

Julie Ryan Evans

boy eatingMost moms have been there: sitting with your toddler who will barely touch his chicken nuggets while the kid next to you is dining on garbanzo beans and Greek salad and asking for a bite of your sushi.

Why are some children more adventurous eaters than their other picky (and then some) peers? I know first-hand that it can't be purely genetic, as my son actually will try pretty much anything and like most of it, while his father and I were among some of the pickiest eaters as children and are still ... uh, discriminating. So it must be something -- at least in part -- that parents can help nurture.

I caught up with Nancy Tringali Piho, author of My Two-Year-Old Eats Octopus; Raising Children Who Love to Eat EVERYTHING, who offers some great tips for raising children who will try and eat most anything:

1. Sit Down!

Now is the time to teach that meals play an important role in our day. Make breakfast-lunch-dinner definite sit-down-to-eat occasions, even if it's just for 10 or 15 minutes at a time.

2. Doesn't This Look Good?

Talk it up! Comment on the yummy smells from the oven, or how pretty and juicy the steak looks. Little kids "eat with their eyes" just like adults do.

3. It's a Dinner, Not a Diner!

And that means no short order cooking! From earliest eating days, children can and should eat what everyone else at the table is eating.

4. Focus on the Whole Meal

If you're serving chicken, peas, and rice for dinner, then your kid should have chicken, peas, and rice on her plate, too. What if she scarfs down the rice and wants more? Not until she has a bite or two of the rest of the items in the meal.

5. Spice It Up

Don't be afraid to let your child sample spicier dishes, like those found in Indian or Mexican cuisines. If it's really too hot, stir a little milk or sour cream into his portion, so that he still gets the flavor of the dish, without the full effect of the heat.

6. Pour Out the Juice

Kiddie beverages all have one thing in common: They are sweet, sweet, sweet to the taste. Don't start your little one off believing that drinks have to be sweet to taste good. Stick to plain milk and water.

7. Repeat, Repeat, Repeat

If at first your child doesn't like spinach or Brussels sprouts or broccoli, try, try again. Researchers have found that up to 15 separate introductions of a food may be required before it will be accepted by some children. Wait several days or weeks, but don't drop the offending item out of the menu entirely.

8. ... And Nix the Other Kiddie Products

Children's menus in restaurants, children's cereals and snack foods, packaged toddler meals: If it's a food product made for and marketed to kids, chances are it's going to be inferior in taste and flavor to comparable adult products. Avoid these, and you will be way ahead in the game of preventing picky eating.

What steps do you take to help your children become adventurous eaters? Is it important to you that they are?

Image via LelandsMommy

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