Try This Tuesday #6: Expanding Food Choices

Try This Tuesday
Although my son has always had a definite dislike of certain textures and tastes, he was a fairly good eater until around his second birthday, at which point he was down to about 5 different foods.

Over the last few years, he has slowly increased the number of foods he will eat, but he is still very reluctant to try new things. I would like to see him expand his food choices, but many of the ideas I have gotten in parenting books or from other moms just haven’t worked that well for us.

One behavioral strategy used by a local feeding clinic is to place a tiny amount of the new food on a plate. The child is then asked to sit at the table and told that once they eat the food, they can have their reward (go play, have a larger bite of a preferred food, etc).

They are always calm and friendly, never strict or coercive, and they have the taste sessions separate from meals. Getting a child to eat a new food is first about just tasting it, not about the nutrition. Also, when selecting new foods, they only change one thing at a time; if the child will only eat one brand of potato chips, the new food may simply be a different brand of potato chip.

Another important part of the technique is to set a timer. When the timer goes off, the session is done, even if the child hasn’t eaten the food. This way, the child doesn’t think they are getting out of it due to throwing a tantrum and they avoid reinforcing negative behavior.

While it may not work for every child, I am happy to enjoy mealtimes again and work on accepting new foods at other times. And we did see him eat a blueberry at the family reunion last month, so maybe there still is hope!

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Trish can be found writing here at 5MFSN every Friday in addition to hosting Try This Tuesday. You can also find Trish at her blog, Another Piece of the Puzzle.

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