Want your child to try new foods, but don’t know how to begin?
My wife and I are at our wit’s end!
We’ve gone to the doctor, counselor, speech therapist…we’ve tried everything!
My child will eat what he likes—pizza, chips, etc—without a problem, but he won’t eat what we eat.
I have to force my son to eat or he won’t eat anything all day.
There are a lot of reasons kids won’t eat and I’ve outlined many of them in this post. From illness to extreme picky eating, part of helping your child try new food is to figure out why he won’t eat.
In this article, you’ll learn why your child won’t try new foods and what you can do about it.
The Why Behind Not Eating
What are the reasons your child won’t eat?
Is there an underlying medical condition like chronic constipation that causes him to have a low appetite?
Does he have heightened senses to odor, appearance or textures that get in the way of his willingness to try new food? Or even eat what the rest of the family is eating?
Has he learned to like unhealthy foods because he was given them early on and his taste buds have set a firm preference for them?
Understanding the root cause to your child’s unwillingness to try new food is the first step to helping him make progress.Understanding why your child won’t eat is step one to helping him try new foods. #pickyeater #trynewfood Click To Tweet
In my experience, there’s more than one reason why kids won’t eat. And, often, there’s a story that unfolds.
Charlie was a great eater his first year. He ate everything. Early in his second year of life, he had several ear infections and his eating took a nosedive.
He ended up drinking a lot of milk from a bottle during those illnesses, just to stay hydrated and nourished. When he was healthy again, eating started to become an issue.
He wanted his bottle, wasn’t interested in solid food, and then, the mealtime pressure picked up. His parents played airplane, gave him toys to play with, and distracted him to sneak in a bite of food.
It soon became clear that there were certain foods Charlie would eat willingly (chips, crackers, cheese), and others (veggies and meat) that would end up on the floor or refused.
To sustain him nutritionally, his parents gave him the sure thing: the foods he would eat. They still offered him foods they knew were good for him, but Charlie wasn’t interested.
Before long, Charlie had a limited diet, wasn’t expanding his food selections, and the interaction at mealtime had disintegrated to force feeding, blending foods into a mush (fed by spoon), or a smoothie (given in a bottle).
Problematic Eating is a Slippery Slope
The path to problematic eating is a slippery slope. And often, it’s not the fault of the child or the parent.
It’s just what happens when one thing crops up and a) isn’t handled optimally, or b) is followed by a response that leads to another difficulty.
In the story of Charlie, you can see an illness triggered the cascade of events leading to where he is now. But each response to Charlie’s behavior along the way could have been handled differently.
Handling our own response to these challenges or blips in feeding—or the behaviors our children place in front of us—is the key to keeping feeding and nourishing our kids on track.
This can be a real challenge, especially if you have a child who is challenging to feed.
Many times, parents think they’ve tried everything, but understanding why a child won’t eat and nailing down our response to our child’s behavior is a big step towards helping him try new food.How are you responding to the child who won't eat? Your response is key. #pickyeater #trynewfood Click To Tweet
How to Really Help Your Child Try New Food
Once you’ve figured out the why and whether or not your responses to your child are supportive or complicating things further, what’s next?
You might think that more pressure, sneakier tactics or some magical food is the answer, but it’s not.
The answer to helping your child try new food is in setting up the environment, implementing a systematic method for introducing new food, tracking progress, and building your child’s confidence to tackle any food placed in front of him.
That’s why I wrote my workbook, Try New Food: How to Help Picky Eaters Taste, Eat and Like New Food!
I know many parents are looking for more guidance in this area. This guide not only helps you set up a positive and productive food environment, it takes you, step-by-step through the process of increasing your child’s food variety.
How to introduce new foods, feed, and interact with their child positively is key so you avoid making eating worse.
Try New Food will help you:
- Set up a positive, low pressure environment for trying new foods
- Understand how much new food to offer
- Identify which foods to offer
- Carefully choose new foods to increase your child’s success with them
- Know how to respond when your child tastes a new food
- Know how to respond when your child refuses a new food
- Effectively schedule new food trials
- Identify who should be with your child when trying new foods
- Pick a place where new food trials should happen (hint: NOT where you think)
- Methodically use a step-by-step system for food introduction
- Track your child’s progress
- Move on from one new food to the next
- Recognize counter-productive feeding interactions and tactics so you can avoid them
- Use the best strategies to help your child try new food
The Essentials to Helping Your Child Try New Foods
I know it’s frustrating, and even downright scary when your child won’t eat or even try new food! But, there’s a lot you can do at home, even if you ultimately need to get additional help from a professional.
The information I have included in Try New Food is what I consider the “essentials” to beginning the turn-around from “won’t eat anything” to “ok, I will try it.”
This e-guide will, at a minimum, change the way you think about your eater and stop the cycle of negative behaviors and responses that may be making things worse.
That, my friends, is a powerful, transformative first step.
If Try New Food only did that, wouldn’t it be worth it?
I hope you will take the first step to transforming your child into the adventurous eater you want him to be.How do you get your child to try new food? #pickyeater #trynewfood Click To Tweet
Written by: Jill Castle, MS, RDN
Published on: January 11, 2017
Updated on: April 10, 2019