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Adventures in Eating

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Do you want to add variety to your child's diet?

Feeding young children is an adventure. Sometimes it's easy and sometimes it's... more challenging. Between the ages of 2 and 6, many children do not like to try new foods. This is normal and children become more willing to try foods as they get older. Keep these short messages in mind:

Let go a little to gain a lot.
It's natural to worry about a preschooler's eating habits. Offer healthy foods and allow kids to choose from them. They'll be more likely to enjoy meal time and eat enough, so everyone's happier.

Think beyond a single meal.
Meals and healthy snacks give children several chances every day to eat a variety of foods. If a child eats only a little or nothing at one meal, don't worry. He'll make up for it with other meals and snacks to get what he needs for good health over time.

Patience works better than pressure.
Offer children new foods. Then, let them choose how much to eat. Kids are more likely to enjoy new foods when eating them is their own choice. It also teaches them how to be independent.

These messages were designed for moms, but can also be used by fathers, grandparents, child care providers, or anyone else who feeds young children. There are several other nutrition messages, too. Watch this short video from U. S. Department of Agriculture's Food and Nutrition Service as one mom explains how she has used the nutrition messages with young children.

Goal for this month:
  • If your child is not a selective eater, be adventurous and offer new foods.
  • As an adult, try a new food for yourself.
Share your best tips for encouraging children to try new foods in the comment section.

Are you a child care provider? Then you may be interested in our Building a Healthy Plate: Cooking with Whole Grains training. This free three-hour session provides credit towards Parent Aware certification course.

Revised July 2014 by Hannah Jastram, Communications Associate -- Family Development.

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