It may well be that you enjoy dining on international delights and dive right into creative cuisines, spicing things up in the kitchen with exotic foods. Meanwhile, you may have concerns that your child may not share your open-to-anything palate. If you want to raise an adventurous eater, start early and expose your child to an array of options that will help him to accept adventurous foods as he grows.
Your child is watching you. If you gleefully chomp on the meal in front of you, she may enthusiastically join in. The American Academy of Pediatrics — on its HealthyChildren.org website — suggests eating one meal a day as a family. As you eat, make sure to smile and add comments such as, "Mommy loves this spinach salad. It's so yummy." Get other family members, such as older siblings, in on the act. This provides extra opportunities to model receptive eating.
If your child refuses to try foods that he doesn't already enjoy, try serving new items along with ones that he knows and loves. For example, if kale is too adventurous for your picky tot, add it as a side dish with his favorite mac and cheese. If he still refuses, continue to give him the food again. It may take between eight and 15 times before your child agrees to try the new food.
Waiting until your child is in grade school to try new, more adventurous foods isn't likely to have the same effect as starting early. Anne K. Fishel, a psychology professor at Harvard, writes on the FamilyDinnerProject.org website that toddlers are more likely than older children to try new and different foods. Start from the beginning, introducing an array of different — but safe and age-appropriate — options as your child moves into eating solid foods.
Letting your young child invest her time and energy into the meal prep may make her more willing to try new items at the table. Let her mix ingredients in a bowl with a spoon, measure items and pour or roll dough. Supervise your child, never allow her near a heat source such as the stove, and never give her sharp utensils to use. Instead, Fishel suggests allowing a toddler to pull off basil leaves as you make pesto.