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Try, Try, and Try Again

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Most young children are reluctant to try new foods (there's even a name for this — food neophobia). So don't be offended if your toddler wrinkles his nose and spits out your carefully prepared offering. And don't take his initial rejection as a final judgment on the dish. Research shows that offering a new food several times, a day or two apart, will likely lead to success. And an old pediatrics adage says that the seventh time is the charm when it comes to getting a new food on the "yes" list.

The first time you give your toddler a new food, offer him a spoonful or two, or let him try a small amount on his own. Then give up if you get a negative response. Bide your time, and put the dish on the menu again a day or two later. Never force-feed your child, unless you want him to keep resisting that food — and many others, too. "Try" is okay for now.

All the effort is worth it. Research shows that willingness to try new foods and a varied diet lead to healthier lifelong eating habits. And now is the time to start developing those habits.

Helpful Hint: Children are more willing to try new foods if they see trusted adults and familiar older children eating them, too. So if you turn up your own nose at spinach, don't expect to sell it to your toddler. Good eating habits are a family affair, so stock up on the veggies, fruits, and whole grains — and eat them!


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