We all know one, maybe we are one. The picky eater.
“This is Hannah and this is Jacob,” says Karen Salvi, grandmother.
Of the 16-month-old twins, it’s Jacob.
“He’ll eat hot dogs and mac-n-cheese and things like that, but if you put a vegetable in his mouth he’ll spit it right back out,” says Salvi.
It can be the beginning of a life-long distaste for certain foods, starting in the toddler years. Pediatricians have a name for it.
“A new word now called food neophobia. It’s the unwillingness to try new food,” says Pierre Loredo, a pediatrician with Lee Memorial Health System.
There are three components: development, preference and family. Family behavior is the one you can influence.
“Get the child more involved. Have them go shopping with you. Have them choose which vegetables fruits they want and you can go ahead and have them help prepare it,” says Loredo.
If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Researchers found that early exposure has a lasting impact. Toddlers who sample a vegetable 6 to10 times have a higher likelihood of developing a taste for it.
“I suspect it has to do with familiarity - times serving your child different variety of fruits and vegetables. Having those on the table in small, consumable pieces will make it easier,” says Loredo.
Chaining is another way to encourage kids to try new things.
“Combine different foods, such as you could grab a banana you could dip it in yogurt. You could grab peanut butter; put it on a apple slice. So you want to kind of sneak in new foods in there,” says Loredo.
Grandma watches the twins during the day and makes sure they are exposed to new foods.
“Yeah, all different kinds. And sometimes they’ll try it and sometimes they won’t,” says Salvi.And it turns out; getting kids to try new things is half the battle.