Getting Kids to Try New Foods

By Annabel Karmel

11th March 2019
Annabel Karmel - Mice In Jackets

Share this entry:

For many parents out there, encouraging little ones to try new foods can often result in mealtimes quite quickly turning into a battle of wills!  My own son was the world’s worst eater.  He’d use every dinnertime diversion tactic in the toddler rule book, with most meals either ending-up decorating the walls or covering the carpets.

First thing’s first; know that most children go through a phase of fussy eating. It’s not you. The good thing is, most children grow out of their fussiness, with mealtime meltdowns becoming a distant memory (or nightmare!). But if you’re in the midst of feeling the frustration, here are my simple but effective tricks for getting children back on track and enjoying good food.

  • Prepare foods in different ways. For example, most kids I know wouldn’t eat boiled cauliflower, but roasting it is a whole different ball game. You can also try threading colourful bite-sized pieces of food such as peppers, cucumber and cherry tomatoes onto a straw to create fun salad kebabs. Serve drizzled with a light creamy dressing for added appeal.
  • Be up front about fruit and vegetables. Tell them where they come from and why they are so good for you. Giving them facts is likely to make them more interested about what they are eating. Why not try playing a guessing game and blindfold each child before introducing a new food and asking them to guess what it is.
  • If you can sit down to eat together, do it. Kids are so impressionable – they’ll want what you’re having, so try new healthy nutritious foods with them. Enthusiasm is contagious.
  • Prepare your children’s dinner with them. Lay out ingredient bowls (with lots of added new foods) and let your fussy tot top their homemade Tortilla Pizza – it’s a proven tactic to get them to try new foods that they would usually shun.
  • Grow your own. My kids used to get so excited growing cress in egg cups. Growing your own doesn’t require a huge garden or equipment. Get your kids growing their own herbs or sprouting seeds in little pots on window shelves. Doing this can get them really excited about food.
  • Keep it casual. Don’t insist on them eating a big portion. Since this is about introducing variety, encouraging curiosity and cultivating healthy eating, eating a full plate isn’t important. Get them to try a few mouthfuls of everything. And remember, don’t make it into a big deal if they don’t.
  • Add a little theatre to family mealtimes. Kids love new things, especially when they’re miniature or personalised. My Baked Potato Mice are a fun way to liven up jacket potatoes or for lunch, and my Lettuce Boats are fantastic alternative to sandwiches. Another top tip is to let them use their own special cutlery set or get them playing with chopsticks.

Annabel Karmel - Mice In Jackets

  • Allow your little ones to cook for the family. When my children were 4, 6 and 7, I encouraged them to cook supper for the family every Friday. I would help them with things like chopping up vegetables, but soon they learned how to handle kitchen utensils carefully and they took great pride in cooking and being part of the adult world.

For a world of recipes for your baby and toddler, download Annabel Karmel’s Baby &  Toddler Recipe App.  And now you can download Annabel’s special Fussy Eaters recipe bundle within the app for just £1.99. From delicious dinners to fun lunchbox ideas and playdate snacks, there are 50 ideas to choose from. Get the app or update your app now to access this special bundle. Visit for more information.

Annabel Karmel Toddler Recipe App

Why attend Childcare Expo?

Join over 2,500 like-minded individuals from the early years sector who are dedicated to improving both practice and their childcare settings.

Attend educational seminars to credit your CPD

Meet the experts to have your questions answered

Receive fantastic onsite offers and discounts

Experience expert-led informative hands-on workshops

Network with peers and industry players

Pick up hundreds of new product ideas and services

And most of all, enjoy a great day out with your colleagues

100+ exhibitors | 1000s of industry players | 100s of experts