My boys have always been picky. One more than the other two in particular. The kid weighs about five pounds less than his brothers, and you can see it in his ribs and chicken legs (which, incidentally, are two food he won’t eat.) Fortunately, he’s at a healthy weight and height, so I’m lucky not to have to worry that his pickiness is affecting his growth. But it’s so frustrating! He has the same DNA as his brothers, so I can say with confidence that pickiness is not inherited.
But earlier this month, we were at a friend’s house for a playdate. I watched in awe as the mom fed her 5- and 3-year-olds seaweed, salad, and exotically topped pizza. I want my kids to eat like that, I thought. The only pizza my kids will eat is cheese or pepperoni, without sauce. So I asked her for tips. I recognize that her boys didn’t start eating well because of something she did one day, but because that’s the way they were raised. I think for the first few years of the boys’ lives, I was in survival mode, so making sure I introduced different foods wasn’t a top priority. And then it became a habit.
So over time, instead of trying new foods, they refused them in favor of the tried and true. And I didn’t have it in me to fight about it. So chicken nuggets and hot dogs were the default for dinner, and for literally an entire school year, they got Nutella sandwiches. But now that they’re six (and a half, they’re quick to remind me) they’re old enough to
bribe reason with.
What my friend does with her boys is the “no thank you bite.” As in, you take a bite, and if you don’t like it, you can say, “no thank you,” but you must take that one bite. If you like more, great! If not, that’s okay! At least you tried it. It helps them understand that they can’t say they don’t like something if they’ve never tried it.
While we were on that playdate, thanks to the “no thank you bite,” my boys tried strawberries, seaweed, tapioca pearls, garlic, and rose petals (!) I won’t say they liked everything, but they tried it.
Of course, when we got home, I was worried they were just trying to impress the other mom, but since that playdate, they’ve eaten plenty of new foods. Hamburgers, cheeseburgers, pineapple, and peas! Oh, and a Butterfinger. Hey, that’s a new texture of protein packed peanut butter. Sue me.
How do you get your older kids to try new foods?