Healthy Habits: Introducing new foods to your children with ease
Welcome to Healthy Habits: New Foods edition!
As a parent there are a few things scarier than any haunted house, the first time your child bangs his head on the coffee table, the first time she rides her bike out of eyesight, and, of course, trying to get him to eat something new. I’m here to tell you, getting your child to try new foods doesn’t have to be frustrating or an all-out battle. If you are strategic, and patient, you can actually get your child to want to try new foods. Want the Jedi step-by-step? Here you go.
Step 1: Establish the right identity
This step requires a little creativity on your part but I’ll outline the what, the why and the how-to. Among many things, our identities shape the clothes we wear, the activities we enjoy, and the foods we want to eat. Your child is no different. If you want your child to be more welcoming of new and different experiences you have to help her establish an identity that is in line with those actions. This identity needs to be tailored to your child. Not every child wants to be strong or adventurous or bold. You’ll want to find the right combination of traits that are natural for your child and frame them very specifically.
- Here are some identities that are willing to step out of their comfort zone:
- Heroes: They do what is right, always, because it is in their nature. They are bold and strong, they are courageous, they are adventurous, they are willing to take action that others are not or are too afraid to take. They are not held back by their fears even though they are afraid at times. When a hero is presented with something new they will boldly step forward because that is who they are. If a hero isn’t excited with the outcome of an experience, that’s ok, they’ve lived up to their potential by giving it their best.
- Good friends/family members: Good friends like to support their friends. When his friend makes a food he hasn’t had before, a good friend will try it to show his appreciation of his friend’s effort. If he doesn’t like it, that’s ok, he has shown his friend that he cares and appreciates him.
- Scientists: Scientists experiment with everything! They want to know how everything tastes, what everything feels like, where every path leads. They get out in the world to see and know and explore. Sometimes they may not like the result they get, but that’s ok! At least now they know. Curiosity is everything to a scientist!
- Explorers/Leaders: Leaders are always the first to go where others have not yet gone. They want to be the first to know what new foods taste like and what new experiences feel like so they can tell their crew what’s up. A true leader steps up even when they are uncertain of what will happen because they can handle a little disappointment and they are excited to show others when a new thing is great!
As you think about traits your child exhibits, begin to praise and positively reinforce these traits in everyday life. Build up the identity in circumstances when he or she is naturally displaying the characteristics. Then when a situation becomes challenging, gently remind him or her of the identity and encourage him or her to step forward to display the traits you know are there.
Step 2: Build Trust
This is a two-part process. First you need to establish that new things can be really great. Give yourself a couple of easy wins in the same week you want to introduce something new. For example, you know you want to start your child on Healthy Height. Before you ever mention Healthy Height to her plan two small wins with new things you know she will love. Space them out a few days apart. This will establish for her that you are awesome, and new things are cool. If you know your child loves going to the park, go to a new park you’ve scoped out and you know will be a hit. If your child loves Disney movies, pick out one she hasn't seen from your childhood that you know will be a special moment for the two of you to share. Then when you begin the next step she will be primed for a third new thing that is also going to be a winner.
Step 3: Create Desire
This is especially easy with Healthy Height. The packaging is so kid oriented. When the box arrives go to the door with your child. Let him know you got a special treat for him and it’s at the front door. Go with him to get it and place the box somewhere he can see it but not easily access it. Let him know you will open it together in a little while.
Later that evening declare, “It is time to open the box!” Make it special. Remind him this is just for him and it’s a super tasty special treat. Once it is out of the box, put it on a counter where he can see it but do not open it. Let him know you will make it for him in a few days. Leave it on the counter.
This is the crucial piece of this step: let him ask about it. Don’t mention it, don’t encourage anticipation, act like it isn’t even there. Let him come to you, ask you questions, ask when he gets to try, remind you that he hasn’t tried it yet. This is your moment. He trusts that when you say he’ll love it that he will and now he really wants to try it.
Step 4: Build the Habit
Now that your child has tried Healthy Height and loved it, build the habit of eating it with her. Ask her at what time of day she would like to eat her Healthy Height treat. Then set a visible reminder. Maybe that is a note on the refrigerator or leaving the bag in a certain spot or setting an alarm your child knows is for her Healthy Height snack. This way she knows exactly when she is going to have her Healthy Height, she is going to remind you about it and is completely on board with the entire process.
Congratulations mamas and papas! You have just successfully introduced a new food item and created a healthy habit for your little one.
The content in the Healthy Height Growth and Nutrition Guide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.