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Master The Art Of Introducing New Food Items To Children

Team StoryWeavers|February 12, 2021|

introducing new food items to children

In an earlier article, we discussed different ways of making mealtimes happier. The next challenge that parents often face is getting young children to eat new food items. Expanding their child’s diet by introducing new food items can be a cause of concern for some parents. 

In this article, we will cover ways to introduce new food items to children. 

How To Introduce New Food Items To Children

Thomas M. Reimers’s book, Help! There’s a Toddler in the House!, published by Boys Town Press, mentions a step-by-step method of introducing new food items to children. This involves two key steps, i.e. creating a reward jar and then introducing new food items

Implementing ‘Reward Jar’ Method

  • Step 1
    • Materials Needed: A transparent jar, tokens such as cotton balls, buttons, marbles, etc. 
    • Every time a child eats a food item, you can add one token to the jar. 
    • Initially, you can get a smaller jar that will fill up quickly and later move on to bigger jars. 
    • To begin with, you can give tokens for eating everything on the plate to familiarise them with the reward jar. 
    • Once the jar fills up, you can reward the child with whatever you have promised initially. Keep it simple like going to a playground or reading a storybook.
    • Tip: Try not to break this promise as it will compromise the effectiveness of this method. 
  • Step 2
    • Materials needed: Smiling face card, Frowning face card, and Neutral face card
    • Ask the child to rate each new food item that the child tastes. Then as per the rating, put the tokens in the rewards jar: 
      • Smiling Face: Three Tokens
      • Neutral Face: Two Tokens
      • Frowning Face: One Token
    • Ensure that foods with smiling card rating are introduced often so that children will not be tempted to rate dishonestly. 
    • Once the jar fills up, reward the child. Try to ensure that the rewards are special or rare and are only accessible through this activity to keep the child interested. 
  • Step 3: Every time a jar is filled and reward is given, increase the size of the jar. 

Introducing New Food Items To Your Children

Here are a few things you can do while introducing the new food items to your children. 

  • Use a divided tray that has at least four compartments. 
  • Keep one food item in one compartment in a smaller quantity to avoid frightening the children. 
  • Ask the children to rate the food items and allow them to earn tokens for the reward jar. 
  • Later you can introduce different textures of the same food item and then change the item. For example: First introduce raw carrots, then you can introduce carrots cooked or seasoned differently. Later, you can introduce cucumbers. 
  • Keep reintroducing these food items until the children have tried each item for at least ten to fifteen times.
  • Track the food ratings to understand what children like and dislike, and which ones to take out of rotation. 
  • The best time to introduce this is  snacks time, in order to keep it casual. 

Stay consistent and patient throughout this process. Like all the other parenting challenges, trying new food items is also likely to take months or even years to become a part of the child’s life. In case you feel that the child’s nutritional needs are not being met, you should reach out to the paediatrician. 

How do you introduce new food items to your children? Have you tried this strategy before? Let us know in the comments below or drop a line at [email protected].

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About the Author


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Mekhala Joshi

“Me-kha-la!” That happens at least once when she introduces herself to new people. She’s the only ‘Mekhala’ she knows, and she takes a bit of pride in that. She is a quintessential introvert. Mekhala loves tea but cannot make a good cup of tea and often ends up having coffee. She claims that she takes all adjectives as complements unless specified otherwise. Mekhala is an organizational psychologist and psychometrician. She was a class teacher of 36 adorable girls for two years, grade 2 & 3, as a part of Teach For India Fellowship. And has worked as an independent consultant for a couple of years.

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