From Ick to Yum

Take it one bite at a time
Your child may need 10 to 15 exposures to a food before accepting it. (Think about it: You likely didn’t take to new adult flavors such as coffee or alcohol right away.) So how do you get them to try the cauliflower or blueberries the other 9 to 14 times? First, don’t give the game away. “Kids can sense if you’re feeding them something you think they’re not going to like,” says Jana. That pretty much guarantees they won’t eat it.

Next, if you insist they have to clean their plates, they’re going to start exerting their independence and not eat any at all. This is where the “no, thank you” bite comes in. The child must eat one bite of each thing on the plate that he claims not to like, then has the option of saying, “no more, thank you.” It’s important to uphold your end of the deal and not urge him to try one more bite. “This technique develops at least a tolerance for the food,” Shu explains, “even though they might not necessarily like it initially.”

But often after several tries, they’ll decide it’s not so bad, and since they’re hungry, they’ll have two bites this time. Jana likes the method, too, because not only does it take the pressure off you, but it also gives the child a measure of control. She’s seen toddlers come around to liking everything from beets to hummus to cottage cheese this way.