15 Hacks for Introducing New Foods to Toddlers

Why do kids get picky?!

The University of California San Francisco tells us that kids can become picky eaters for a number of reasons. It could be:

  • Some children are naturally more sensitive to taste, smell and texture.
  • Other children develop picky eating habits by modeling their parents' fussy eating habits (yikes!). 
  • Picky eating habits are more likely to develop when parents punish, bribe or reward their children's eating behaviors.

The goal for feeding a picky eater should be to try new foods and to keep food from starting a battle from the beginning.

This is why we created Cafe Baby. We want Baby’s first bite to be delicious and nutritious food and we want to take the planning off of your hands too! We make it easy to feed your kids fast and fresh food.

Meghan Crouse, MS CCC-SLP, joins us from Mini Minds to give us some tips for how to get your toddler to try new foods. 

Here we go!

1. Let them be your shopping buddy

Take your child grocery shopping with you and ask them to pick out new foods to try. Talk about food as you walk through the grocery store.

Or, when you’re shopping online at Cafe Baby or in the Cafe Baby store, show them new foods and have them pick out what they want.

2. Give them a choice of two items

When choosing meals or snacks, give the child the choice of two non-preferred but familiar items, or two brand new items. Make sure to relate them to preferred foods.

3. Cook in the kitchen together

Allow your child to pick out a new recipe or cook up one of their favorites with you in the kitchen. This will allow them to smell and feel new foods in a fun way. 

It’s important to remember patience in this scenario. Just know that you may not move as fast as you typically do, but you are building a love of cooking in your child which will set them up for a lifetime of appreciation for cooking.

4. Model/Imitate and use siblings & peers

Model yourself experiencing and eating new foods and over exaggerate it. This is especially important for new or non-preferred foods. Ask siblings or peer friends to model this as well. Children usually follow their peers lead.

5. Tolerate-Touch-Kiss-Lick-Bite/Spit-Swallow

Follow this hierarchy when trying new or non-preferred foods. This allows the child to experience the food first before going straight to eating it. Tolerate it on someone else’s plate, their own plate, smell it. Then touch with a finger/whole hand and touch it to various parts of their face (forehead, nose, chin, have child “paint their face” etc), Kiss the food, lick the food, bite the food/leave teeth marks in food, bite and spit out or chew and spit out, eventually working up to swallowing the food. Allow a bowl for child to spit out food. If all else fails, have child throw food in trash or kiss and throw into the trash (they are still experiencing it this way).

6. Serve meals family style

Sit down for meals and have them served family style. Have child serve themselves so they are in control of their portion. Have them do this even if you do not think the child will eat the food on their plate as they are still experiencing the food by serving themselves.

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Meghan is a Speech Language Pathologist at Mini Minds and Witham Memorial Hospital. One of her favorite populations to work with is pediatric feeding and swallowing. She went to Butler University for undergrad and the University of Alabama for grad school. She completed her clinical fellowship year at Mini Minds under Kristin Kouka in 2018 and then received her Certificate of Clinical Competence. She lives in Zionsville, Indiana with her husband, Eric, 4 month old daughter, Charlotte (who just started eating solids herself), and chocolate lab, Dixie.

Café Baby​ provides health-conscious parents with a convenient, long-lasting range of fresh, handmade baby food and lactation products. These mom and baby friendly foods are fresh-frozen for easy access and are shipped to your doorstep. Shop their age-based menus at www.cafebabytogo.com.