Many parents have gone through battles at the dinner table trying to get their child to try new foods at home. Why won’t they just try one bite? Children who have feeding difficulties or aversions to foods will often have trouble trying unfamiliar foods. Taking bites may cause them to gag — or even worse! It isn’t easy watching your child struggle to try foods that will help them maintain a healthy weight. Every parent wants their children to make healthy food choices; some parents just want their children to eat SOMETHING!
To help your children try new foods, it is beneficial to redefine the phrase “try it.” Trying a new food doesn’t always have to mean taking a bite, chewing, and swallowing a new food. The high expectations of taking a single bite can make mealtimes even more stressful for a child who already is experiencing high anxiety regarding new or unfamiliar foods. So, instead of expecting your child to take a bite, we need to redefine what we mean when we ask them to try their food. Trying a new food could be touching it with their hands or a utensil. Trying a new food could even mean tolerating it on their plate without the expectation to touch it or taste it. As your child becomes more comfortable interacting with new foods, you can encourage them to smell it, kiss it, lick it, or even take a bite!
We demonstrate redefining “try it” in our YouTube video Therapy Tip of the Week – Redefining “Try It”. If you have any concerns about your child’s inability to eat a variety of foods or are feeling increasingly stressed about mealtimes, please call TEAM 4 Kids to schedule an evaluation with one of our wonderful feeding therapists!
– Dana Messer, MS, CCC-SLP