With kids on the Spectrum, new foods are really tricky. Of my four boys, three are super picky, and one is insanely picky. (J3, in case you’re curious!)
I have had to come up with a few tricks to get them to at least try new things. I don’t expect them to love it. Just trying a new thing is tough for them and can often lead to gagging, vomiting and breakdowns. So I understand how tough it is for them. (I do admit it’s hard to remember this on a daily basis. It’s hard not to be frustrated.)
Something that’s super easy to do is just rename foods you already make! If your kids like space, pirates, cowboys, dinosaurs, princesses, or ponies, think along those themes.
Spaghetti and Meatballs and garlic bread can become Space-sketti and Meatie-ors, and Galaxy bread.
You can make plain meatballs (just ground beef/turkey rolled into balls – no extra fillers) and call them Baby Burgers, Burger Babies, Burger Bites, Burger Nuggets or Burger Buddies. We’ve done them on the stove top or in the oven. Adding toothpicks makes everything more fun. Layer a pickle, slice of tomato and piece of lettuce on the toothpick like a mini skewer. Dip them in bbq sauce, ranch dressing, or ketchup.
Let ’em help in the kitchen. Kids love to be a part of something. Even if they don’t like what they’ve made, they are more likely to try it than if they weren’t a part of it. And the time together will be a bonus for both of you.
Let them help plan the menu. We use Plan to Eat for simple meal planning. One day let them pick their favorite entree, the next their favorite side, the next their favorite veggie, the next their favorite fruit, the next their favorite dessert. Of course, if you have more than one kid, mix it up. Some kids just do better knowing when something new is coming, too. Try to introduce only one to three new foods a week.
Adding cheese to many veggies can make them more appetizing. (This can backfire with some Spectrum kids. I have one who can’t STAND melted cheese, unless it’s on a pizza. Yes, that means he hates mac&cheese, grilled cheese and cheesy broccoli won’t work for him either.)
I let them use ketchup for anything. We use ketchup without corn syrup, and I’m trying to come up with an even healthier recipe. More on that another time! 🙂 But seriously, if it helps them eat something I want them to eat, I let them.
When all else fails, I’m not against sneaking veggies into things. I often blend pureed veggies into pizza sauce, spaghetti sauce, and even in desserts! (Yes, I am that mom.)
How about you? Do you have any great ideas for getting new foods into picky kids?