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6 Ways to Explore New Foods with Kids That Don't Involve Eating Them

Help picky eaters learn to try new foods through play

Introducing new foods to children can often feel like navigating uncharted territory. Will they turn up their noses in disgust? Will they embrace the unknown with open arms? As parents, we want to instill healthy eating habits in our kiddos while making mealtime enjoyable and stress-free. Luckily, there are plenty of fun and creative ways to explore new foods with your child that encourage healthy eating behaviors and help establish a positive relationship with new foods.

a young boy about to try a new food with a dad and girl smiling and watching at the table
Playing with your food may help your kiddos eat more fruits and veggies!

Here are some playful suggestions to explore new foods with your littles:

1. Engage in Food Play: Food play is a fantastic way to remove the pressure from mealtime and encourage exploration. By incorporating play into the experience, you'll create a positive association with new foods and make mealtime more enjoyable for your child. Here's a few ideas to incorporate food into your child's play: - Get creative by making art with food. - Play "restaurant" with toy food. - Turn a trip to the grocery store into a game of eye spy. Looking for more ideas? Check out this book for some fun with food for kids!

2. Sort by Color: Cut up brightly colored fruits and veggies and invite your child to help you sort them by color. This activity not only encourages visual exploration but also provides an opportunity to talk about the different colors and flavors of different fruits and vegetables.

3. Involve Kids in the Kitchen: Involving your child in meal preparation can spark their interest in trying new foods without them actually having to eat the food!

Take them grocery shopping and allow them to choose fruits, vegetables, and other ingredients they’d like to explore. In the kitchen, assign them age-suitable tasks such as washing vegetables, stirring ingredients, or putting together their own meals.

4. Cooking Show Watch Party: Spend quality time with your child by watching cooking shows together. Discuss the cooking process, ingredients, and flavors featured on the show. You can even try recreating some of the recipes together in the kitchen—a fun and educational way to explore new foods.

5. Let Your Child Shine: Turn your child into the star of their own food adventure by recording videos of them trying new foods. Encourage them to talk to their audience (whether it's siblings, stuffed animals, or favorite TV characters) about their thoughts and feelings as they take a bite. This playful approach can help reduce anxiety around trying new foods and make the experience more enjoyable for your child.

6. Read Food Focused Books: Incorporate food-themed books into your child's reading routine and explore different foods together before they even take center stage on the plate. Choose books that focus on how different foods make you feel, how they are enjoyed in different cultures, and how they can be prepared and enjoyed in many different ways to spark curiosity about trying new flavors and ingredients. Find out more about this AND my top 35 favorite food themed children's books here!

There are so many ways to learn about new foods with kids, but exploring through play is one of my favorite no pressure ways to help picky eaters try new foods. Have you tried any of these with your kids? If not, give them a try and let me know how it goes!

Looking for ways to help your picky eater try new foods?
a graphic of a picky eaters pocket guide

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