Growing Little Palates

Promoting good eating habits for your child

Imagine you could not choose the food that was served to you at a restaurant.
Instead, something unfamiliar was put in front of you and the server spooned it into your mouth. Would you return to that restaurant?

We need to think about how we give food to children in a way that builds trust and curiosity.
Everything from touching or smelling anew food can be a small win that will build into more progress over time.

Role Model. Children mimic what they see others do. They often want to eat foods they see others eating.

Explore. The more often children see, smell, touch or talk about a food, the more comfortable they become with it. This doesn’t always mean eating it.

  • Talk about the foods color, texture and smell. Play with food outside meals too- through colouring books, toys and activities.
  • Learn about the food together. Explore where it comes from and how it got to your plate. Understanding something makes it less scary.
  • Serve new foods in a small amount with familiar foods often – not just once or twice.
  • It’s our job to choose what food they are offered. Their job is to decide if they want to eat it and how much of it. You can learn about this from the Ellyn Satter Institute (
  • Avoid offering alternatives to refused foods. This shows the child that they are in control what food is served, not you.
  • Make new foods in different ways.
  • Let the child feed themselves rather than being fed.
  • Eat together without distractions or rushing.
  • Involve children in food prep, meal planning and grocery
  • Get everyone on the same page that is involved in feeding the
    child. If one caregiver does something differently, it may be hard
    for the child to get used to the rules.
  • Be careful with your language around kids. Labelling food as “good or bad”, “healthy or unhealthy” can lead to kids feeling guilty or ashamed when they do eat something that has been labelled in a certain way and may fuel disordered eating.
  • Be careful with your own diet-language around kids. Talking about how you “over did it” or you “ate junk” can be impactful on them.
  • Avoid calling a child a “picky eater”. Children can start to believe that is what they are and not want to try new foods.
  • Avoid “Yucky” and “Yummy” labels on food. Try words instead like squishy, sticky, wet, dry, salty, sweet, crunchy.