You finally took the leap and began introducing new foods to your super picky eater – despite their resistance and meltdowns and despite all of your reservations.
It’s an important first step. Only is the experience not like you expected?
Many parents I meet in Conquering Picky Eating feel that once they take the leap and start offering their child new foods that their child will also step up to the plate and begin eating.
Unfortunately, this is not always how it goes. I actually advise parents not to expect that will happen. One of the best things you can do is to actually have no expectations at all. This makes it easier for both you and your child.
To avoid further disappointment, stress, and frustration when serving your child new foods, read on for my best tips on what to expect when introducing new foods to an extreme picky eater so you can be most successful.
What to Expect When Introducing New Food to a Picky Eater
It will take time before they like it or even eat it
Learning to eat new foods takes time. You might need to introduce a new food dozens of times before your child feels ready to eat it. Keep introducing foods on repeat even if they reject it one or twenty times.
They will probably ignore it
Your extreme picky eater’s aversions to novel foods is real. Ignoring foods they are not yet comfortable with is a coping mechanism. Don’t force them to have an interaction with the food. Instead, continue to serve new foods and remember that every exposure is a step in the right direction.
They might not want it close by at first
Some kids might ignore new foods while others will protest having them nearby or even just within eyesight. Respect your child’s limits and work towards slowly pushing the envelope to help them feel more comfortable with increased proximity and interactions to new foods.
Pressure can backfire
It can seem like all your child needs to eat something new is a little nudge. It can be tempting to ask them to eat. It’s just a bite, what’s the harm? Though pressure might work in the moment, research shows that in the long term, pressuring kids to eat actually backfires and can lead to them having negative connotations about foods they’re pressured to eat, especially for severe picky eaters.
They might only eat preferred food
Just because you’re serving a new food doesn’t mean that your child will definitely eat the new food. Chances are, they will stick to their preferred, especially at first. Don’t take that as a sign that they don’t like the food or that you should give up. This is a normal reaction at first. Keep serving new foods!
It will be more successful if they’re not the only ones eating
Family and peers are powerful role models when it comes to eating. When introducing a new food, your child will be more likely to eat it if you or other family members are eating it too.
Touching, licking, smelling, and playing are all part of the process
These sorts of interactions are not signs that your child is avoiding eating. Instead, they are techniques that help them learn what to expect when they do finally eat. I recommend encouraging these behaviors.
Serving new foods to an extreme picky eater is the only way they can learn to like new foods. But it’s not always an easy or quick process. When you can adjust your expectations, you can be more successful as you help your child learn to try new foods.
Make a plan for foods you can introduce to your child in the coming week. Be sure to read through the tips above so you are prepared. Try to have no expectations that they’ll eat what you serve, but don’t let that be a reason to stop offering!