The holiday season is synonymous with delectable treats, but for parents of picky eaters, introducing new foods can be a delicate task. In this blog post, we'll explore practical strategies to encourage picky eaters to embrace holiday treats without turning it into a meltdown-inducing ordeal.
To get those picky eater taste buds singing try to:
1. Start with Familiar Flavors:
Ease into the world of holiday treats by incorporating familiar flavors. If your child has a favorite cookie or snack, consider introducing a holiday version with similar ingredients to make the transition smoother. These Banana Pancake Snowmen from Taste of Home, are a great way to get the kids in the holiday spirit, without venturing too far into new territory. My kids love them!
2. Make it a Fun Experience:
Engage your child in the holiday cooking or baking process. When kids participate in creating treats, they may feel more inclined to try the final product. Use cookie cutters or involve them in decorating, turning it into a festive and enjoyable experience. Try these easy recipies, pop on some holiday music, and get ready for a sensory party!
3. Gradual Exposure:
Introduce holiday treats gradually. Begin with smaller portions or offer a bite-sized taste. This allows your child to explore new flavors without feeling overwhelmed, reducing the likelihood of a negative reaction. NEVER force them to try anything they don't want to. this will only lead to trauma and resentment. Neurodivergent Insights provides several ways for you to use graudal exposure safely.
4. Offer Choices:
Provide a selection of holiday treats and let your child choose which ones they'd like to try. This empowers them with a sense of control and independence, making it more likely that they'll be open to experimenting with different treats. Research shows that providing choices, even when it may be between two less preferred options, may still increase likelihood that your child will try one of the options.
5. Create a Positive Environment:
Ensure that the atmosphere around meals is positive and relaxed. Avoid pressuring your child to try new foods, as this may trigger resistance. Instead, foster an environment where trying new things is celebrated and not forced.
At dinner my husband and I try and work in something we want the boys to try. This week it was salad. While they may not try it right away, there's no pressure from us and we play it up as much as possible. Now the conversations around dinner go more like,"Oh mommy, are you having salad? Salad is good for you and it's green!" and less like, "Ewww salad! I don't want to eat that." By not placing any pressure on them to try it and just talking about it in regular conversation, the kids feel like it was their idea to try a bit, and they love having that feeling of control. The baby even found out he liked cucumbers that way. Mama win!
6. Lead by Example:
Demonstrate your own enjoyment of holiday treats. Children often mimic the behaviors of those around them, so if they see you savoring festive foods, they may be more inclined to give it a try themselves. So take a bite of that green bean casserole or try the rugelach. in trying to get your children to taste something new, you may discover a new favorite of your own.
7. Sneak in Nutrients:
If your child is resistant to certain ingredients, find creative ways to incorporate them into holiday treats. For example, add pureed vegetables to muffins or blend fruits into smoothies. This way, you can enhance nutritional value without compromising on flavor. My children love the Dr. Prager's Brownie Littles. They' re packed with veggies like zucchini, spinach, & butternut squash, but taste exactly like decadent brownie bites. Bonus- they come in fun shapes to boot!
8. Respect Preferences:
Acknowledge and respect your child's preferences. While encouraging them to try new things is beneficial, forcing or pressuring can create negative associations. Allow them to have their favorite holiday treats alongside the traditional ones.
Navigating picky eating during the holidays requires patience, creativity, and a dash of festive spirit. By incorporating these strategies, you can create a positive and stress-free environment, encouraging your picky eater to explore the delightful world of holiday treats without turning it into a meltdown. Happy Holidays! 🎄🍪✨
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