Imagine this: your child - open to exploring new foods, helping out in the kitchen, excited to pass through the produce section of the grocery store, asking for second servings of something other than chicken nuggets.
Does this sound like a dream?
It doesn’t have to be. Adopting one simple action is all you need to start converting your kiddo from a veggie skeptic to happy omnivore.
Bring your little the next time you’re hitting up the farmers market or grocery store. Tell them it’s their job to select at least one fruit or vegetable to bring home (better yet, one of each - go crazy!). That’s it!
That sounds too easy. Why will this work?
It is your responsibility as a parent to provide food for your children, but as your kids grow, their role in making decisions about what they eat should grow as well. Research shows a direct connection between vegetable preparation and consumption. Involving kids in the process of feeding your family gives them more power and information, which in turn increases their autonomy and excitement about eating.
What comes next?
For today, selecting just one new vegetable might be as far as you and your little go. That’s okay. The first step is simply encouraging them to select something they MIGHT eat. They might not be ready to dive mouth first into a new food today, but with more exposure that step won’t be far behind. Keep at it. Try again. When they’re open to moving onto the next step - maybe playing with the food, touching it, smelling it, or kissing it - here’s where to take it next (with your assistance as needed depending on age and development):
They can find a recipe featuring the food they selected. This cookbook has a ton of kid-friendly foods and doable recipes.
They can research some fun facts about their vegetable. How does it grow? Where is it from? How should it be stored?
Ask them to help in the kitchen preparing the food. I love these kid-friendly knives.
Don’t rush it. These steps may happen slowly and without your kiddo actually eating the food at first. It’s a process, so meet your kid where they’re at and be patient, resisting the urge to urge. Keep going and the time will come. Their interest will pique. They won’t be able to resist the curiosity. Before you know it, one bite turns into many.
To recap, if you want your picky toddler with autism to eat more vegetables, start including them in food shopping trips to the grocery store or farmers market. It’s one simple step that can make a huge difference the more you do it.
If you’d like more tips on how you can help your picky child learn to love new foods, check out my guide by clicking here.