So far we have been talking about how to Grow a Good Taster. But now…we’re finally here! Introducing new foods at meals!

Kids have to learn to be comfortable exploring new foods before they’ll eat them, so make sure you’re not rushing things.

If you don’t know what I’m talking about, this is the fourth week in my step-by-step, blow-by-blow guide to introducing new foods that’s guaranteed to change how your kids eat. If you’re new, start here.

It’s OK to introduce new foods at meals once your child is comfortable exploring new foods.

Don’t try to introduce new foods at the table if your child is still a reluctant explorer. It will put too much stress and strain on the situation. This may take awhile. Be patient.

Here are the guidelines for introducing new foods at meals:

1) The rules are the same as they have been all along: Offer a teeny, tiny taste. Engage the senses. And, don’t expect your child to eat new foods at meals.

Sounds counterproductive, I know. But it’s the pressure that blows everything up.

2) Make sure there is something on the table that your child can reasonably be expected to eat.

It doesn’t have to be a favorite. It shouldn’t be a meal you’ve cooked just for your child. Think side-dishes: bread, rice, potatoes, green beans.

Reasonable is the key word here. Remember, though, that even favorites can get rejected.

3) Put all the food on the table at the start of the meal. Don’t short-order chef another meal after your child refuses to eat.

If there is something on the table your child normally eats, there is no reason to ever make anything else. It’s important for kids to learn to make do.

When “normally-eaten” foods are rejected, your child is emmersed in a control struggle. Respond and you’ll make it worse. Let the structure do its work.

4) Use the Rotation Rule: Don’t serve the same food two days in a row.

This applies to side dishes too. The Rotation Rule reinforces the idea of “different” instead of “same.” “Different” lays the foundaiton for new food acceptance.  Read more on the Rotation Rule here.

5) Consider using a healthy dessert to fill in the gaps.

Fruit. Cheese and crackers. Plain yogurt with a dollop of jam or honey. Read more on how to use desserts here.

6. Use a back up.

More on these tomorrow.

~Changing the conversation from nutrition to habits.~

Read the next installment in the series.