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It is so important to also let your child explore new foods. To help you understand why this is important consider this scenario.

Imagine you are blindfolded and told that you are going to be fed some food. No one tells you what it is. "You will like it. It is yummy," they tell you. What would you want to do before eating the food? Probably smell it. Maybe even touch it to see if you can learn any more about it.

The same is true for your baby. Eating new foods is a whole experience for a baby just like it can be for us as adults.

Let Your Child Explore New Foods

When my son was 8 months old, I had given him pureed bananas from a jar, but every time I tried giving him bananas I had mashed up at home, he didn't want anything to do with them. My guess is it was the difference in texture that made him think twice about eating them.

At some point I decided he just needed to check out this new texture. I put him in his high chair with a tray and gave him about a third of a ripe banana. Immediately, he looked at me like, "This is for me? OK! I will check it out!" It wasn't about eating. He picked it up, squished it around. Rubbed some in his hair. It was everywhere. Some of it made it into his mouth, but I think it was just by accident. Then he realized it tasted good and started sucking on his banana coated fingers. He had a good experience exploring food.

As parents, we should give our kids a chance to explore and try new foods at their own pace. Don't force it, but offer it.

My son is now 14 months old and had never been a fan of black beans. I would often serve them for with a weekday lunch, because they are an inexpensive and quick source of protein and iron. My son's beans would often just end up on the floor. Guess who threw them there!?

A few weeks ago, I offered them once again. I put 3 black beans in front of him. I didn't make a fuss or say anything about them. He picked one up and ate it. He went on to eat some of the other foods and then picked up another black bean. He ate that one. As I was eating my lunch along with him, I tried not to get too excited that he was finally eating black beans. I ended up having to give him more, and he has enjoyed eating them since then.

Why does this story matter?

Don't put a food on the "dislike" list just because you've given it once or twice to your child, and they made a funny face or didn't eat it.

It can take over 10 times before a child will accept a new food. Keep offering, but don't pressure them. Be a good example by eating a variety of foods in front of them and keep providing healthy foods in small age-appropriate portions.

Resources

HealthyChildren.org
ChooseMyPlate.gov

Audra Losey MS RD

Registered Dietitian from UNL Extension

Audra Losey is a wife and mom of two young children. She is a registered dietitian with a master's degree in Community Nutrition and Health Promotion and dual bachelor degrees in Exercise Science and Dietetics. Audra is employed by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension Nutrition Education Program teaching limited resource families in Douglas and Sarpy counties about healthy eating on a budget. She's especially interested in teaching kids about food and physical activity, and connect ...

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