The science of taste: Practical tips for getting children to eat foods they don't like  1 week ago

The science of taste: Practical tips for getting children to eat foods they don't like 

Are you struggling to get your little ones to eat anything that's not beige and sugar-filled? We hear you. Here are some helpful tips for fussy eaters.

The myriad issues that can arise around food when you’ve got kids is intense. Getting kids to eat anything at all can be a challenging task for many parents, nevermind getting them to savour a bit of broccoli or a courgette. However, as we know, introducing new flavours and diversifying a child's palate is essential for their overall nutrition. 

The good news is that there's a science behind it, and with patience and persistence, you can expand your child's culinary horizons. Research has shown that it can take a child 8-15 exposures to a new food before they begin to accept and even enjoy it. This process is called "food neophobia" which is the natural aversion to new or unfamiliar foods that most children experience.

Here are ten tips to follow if you’re struggling to get the good stuff into your little ones. 

Lead by example: Children often mimic their parents' eating habits. If you want your child to try new foods, be sure to demonstrate a willingness to do the same. 

Start early: Introduce a variety of foods when your child is still a baby and transitioning to solid foods. This can help them become more accepting of different flavours from an early age. 

Serve small portions: Serve new foods in small portions alongside familiar ones. This way, your child won't feel overwhelmed by the new taste, and it's less likely to be wasted if they don't like it initially. 

Be patient: Remember that it may take several tries before your child develops a taste for a new food. Don't give up after the first attempt; persistence is key. 

Have the craic: Create a positive eating environment. Use creative names for dishes, involve your child in meal preparation, and let them explore different textures and colours on their plate. 


Offer variety: Rotate the types of foods you introduce to your child. Diversity in their diet is not only healthy but also makes mealtime more interesting. 

Family time: Sit down together for family meals whenever possible. Children are more likely to try new foods when they see others enjoying them. 

Avoid pressure: Don't force your child to eat something they dislike. This can create negative associations with the food. Instead, encourage them to take a small taste. 

Positive reinforcement: Praise your child when they try something new, even if they don't end up liking it. Positive feedback can encourage them to be more adventurous with their eating. 

Stay calm: Avoid making mealtime a battleground. Keep a calm and patient attitude, and remember that every child's taste preferences develop at their own pace.