It’s not just tomatoes. My child will never eat a pea. Or an apple. Or chicken.

My advice? Stop trying to get your child to eat a tomato, but don’t stop teaching your child about tomatoes. Confused? Let me explain.

You probably know that it can take exposing your child to tomatoes 8-10 before he’ll eat them.

Sometimes that number is put at 14 or more, but it might as well be a million because it can feel impossible to get to the magic number. Parents typically give up after 5 exposures, research shows. Parents feel frustrated and defeated.

It’s time to turn that feeling upside down!

Scale back  your expectations, and you and your child will experience success.

Imagine telling a friend, My daughter tried walking, but she only took one step. I was hoping she’d run.

Expecting some children to eat a new food right out of the gate is like expecting toddlers to start running the moment they take their first successful step.

He only took one bite, parents tell me, their voices laden with disappointment.

If it takes 10 exposures to like tomatoes don’t expect your child to eat tomatoes before exposure number 10.

To do otherwise is to set yourself up for defeat. Instead of eating, encourage your child to look, smell, touch, and maybe taste. Use a pea-sized sample.

The more familiar kids become with tomatoes, the more likely they are to eat them. But only if exploring doesn’t have any strings attached. If you push your child to eat tomatoes, even unintentionally by giving your child more than a pea-sized sample, each exposure is mired in defiance. When this happens, not only is it hard to get to the magic number of exposures, but the times your child is exposed to tomatoes don’t count. That’s right, they don’t count.

A child who tries food under duress doesn’t really taste it. She swallows it to be a “good” child and to get you off her back.

How do you get to the magic number of exposures?

Start off exploring tomatoes by looking at them. Maybe ask your child to smell them. Then move on to poking, prodding and tasting.

Do you think researchers plunk down a portion of something and then ask children to taste it? The implication being that if they taste it and like it they’ll have to eat it? No way. In one study, researchers asked some children to sample 1/32 of a tomato. For more on that study read Why Some Kids Should Spit.

If you want to get the results researchers get, you have to conduct your study the same way they do.

  • Expose your children to tiny portions.
  • Let them explore using “safe” senses.
  • Let a taste be a taste.
  • Celebrate each success.

The Super Food Explorer Kit can help you with this process. Purchase a kit and you gain immediate access to the Insider’s Club Page which is stocked with resources, including one sheet which outlines how to turn your child into a salad eater!

~Changing the conversation from nutrition to habits.~