How to Get a Toddler to Try New Foods*

*Maybe.

If you are like me, you are probably tired of your toddler eating the same four foods.  Elizabeth is going through that phase where she refuses to eat all new foods.  And since we do a lot of seasonal eating, she can’t remember eating things like peaches and blueberries last year and therefore refuses to allow them in her mouth.  (Blueberries!  Do you remember how much she loved blueberries last year?  She even named the chipmunk Booberries!)

I’ve stumbled upon a little trick that works pretty well for her.  If she refuses to taste something, I ask her to lick it.

That’s right.  It is a simple trick.  The first time I asked her to lick something, she got this wicked grin on her face like “I can’t believe Mama is letting me LICK the food.  HAH!”  (Normally, she’s being told things like “we don’t lick Mama on the arm while she is typing.”)  She has been pretty much always willing to lick whatever I put in front of her.

Today, all the licking finally paid off.  She was licking my peaches (by the way, for this to be effective and not a huge waste a food, it’s more convenient if you are okay with eating food that has been previously licked by a toddler), and she kept saying “mmm, peaches!”  So I turned it into a game- she would lick my peach, she’d say “mmm, peaches” and then I would say “mmm, peaches” and eat the peach.  Then we’d do it again.  So then I kind of smooshed up a peach slice a little, so that she might get a little peach residue on her tongue when she licked it.  She didn’t mind.  So then I slipped the tiniest bit of peach into her mouth and she ate it.  I worked up to larger bites of peach, and the next thing I know, she eats peaches again!

I’ve also done this successfully with beans at the Mexican restaurant.  So far, it’s only worked on things that she used to eat but had forgotten that she liked.  But I’ve only been doing it for about two weeks, so we’ll see.