A Trick for Getting My Toddler to Try a New Food

In all fairness to my child, who doesn’t get to blog in her own defense, she is a pretty good eater.

But, as she’s approached the age of two, she’s become increasingly resistant to trying new foods, especially at dinner time (the meal where she regularly has the least appetite, regardless of how long it’s been since she last ate).

I try avoid bribery and I don’t want to make meal times unpleasant for her, but I do want her to try at least a bite or two of whatever we’re having for dinner.

I’ve discovered that one trick will get her to open her mouth, happily, 99% of the time.

I tell her, “Try this one bite and if you don’t like it, you can spit it into my hand.” For some reason, the idea of being given permission to spit out her food is just the temptation she needs.

She does spit out that first bite probably three-quarters of the time, but usually that one taste is enough to make her willing to eat at least a couple of more bites and make the food less foreign to her.

It’s backfired once or twice – the first time we had macaroni and cheese, she loved it once I told her she could spit it out, but for each of the following 20 bites, she spit the tiniest morsel into my hand (I kept putting those bits back on the spoon with the next spoonful, but it wasn’t exactly the most relaxing meal of my life).


Last night, I wanted her to try some lentil soup, and when I made her the offer, she quickly opened her mouth. After the soup was in her mouth, she moved her tongue around and then opened her mouth to spit it into my hand, but, because it was soup, it was already down her throat by the time she opened her lips. My husband and I laughed the whole evening over her trying in vain to spit out something that was already gone (and then she ate three more bites after that! Success!)

A doughnut, of course, needs no such trickery.

Child Eating Doughnut
You can read more of Janssen’s writing about food, books, and party-throwing (for guests who don’t ask to spit their food out into her hand) at Everyday Reading and on Twitter.

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