7 Ways to encourage your child to try new food

I often hear parents say how they would love to improve their child’s diet but the biggest challenge is getting them to try any new food!  Does that sound familiar?  So here are my 7 tips that I always share with my parents. 

1 Relax!

When you have a fussy eater just the build up to a meal time can be very stressful.  An image of cooking a meal and thinking it won’t be eaten already works us into a negative state even before the child has been presented with their meal.  Instead, and I know it is easy to say, just try and relax as children pick up on our stress.  So let your child eat what they want and let them look at their new item of food even if they don’t try it.

2 Rule of 15

Research shows a child may need to see the same food up to 15 times before they actually try it.  The first time they may look at it, second time smell it, third time feel the texture of it on their hands, fourth time squash it up etc but this is their way of familiarising themselves with it.  As parents we need to offer our children the same food e.g. broccoli twice a week over 2 months until they actually eat some.  For some the food every few months but remember every child is different and don’t give up!

3 Eat together

Whenever possible eat together, serve them the same food as yourself and then let them enjoy their food!  I often see parents force feeding their child and telling their child off which only makes the situation worse.  Serve them their meal and eat your own meal in a relaxed manner commenting on the taste of the food and then leave it at that!  I know it is difficult, but for a child who doesn’t like trying new foods it works as they see other people enjoying the “new food” and it encourages them to try it. 

4 Peer pressure

A great way to encourage your child to try new food is to invite a friend round, ask their parent what they like to eat and as soon as they say a food your child has never eaten or says they “don’t like” serve it when they come round.  Often when they see their friend eating a “new food” they then want to try it too.  Similarly with siblings if one doesn’t like a particular food just ask them to leave it on their plate without commenting on it as sometimes a sibling making a negative comment can affect the other sibling to think “they don’t like it” either.

5 Have fun!

According to your child’s age get them to wash, chop, prepare or help cook is a fantastic way to encourage your child to eat something new.  By making a meal they have looked, touched, smelt and then played with the food which really then makes them want to try to eat it.  They may only have one bite but it is still a major step to broadening their diet.

6 Variety

When you cook add different vegetables/protein/herbs and spices and then when you serve it, only serve them what they like which means that they will still get used to the flavours of different foods and then over a period of time they will be more willing to try a new food as they will be familiar with the taste.

7 Appearances do count!

Always try and make food look interesting and exciting.  There is an abundance of children’s cookery books out there which will give you ideas on making fruit faces, jacket potato boats etc all of which your child will love and it will help increase their interest in the “new food”.  

I often find parents get disheartened after a few weeks, so always focus on the small wins, keep providing new foods and above all keep mealtimes fun and relaxed.


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