Family expert Sara Dimerman is here to answer any questions you may have. If you need to submit a question, please email  

Q. How can I get my child to eat new foods?

A. This is one of the most common questions I get asked. Parents find it particularly frustrating and feel powerless when it comes to getting their children to try new foods. What typically begins as a parent encouraging her child to at least taste something, or bribing the child with the promise of a favourite dessert can easily become a full out power struggle as the child purses her lips and defiantly refuses to do as requested.

Some of the tips I often provide parents are the following:

Let them serve themselves.

Rather than serving your child from food on the stove or counter, rather place bowls of food on the table and allow each family member to serve him or herself. The younger children may need some assistance but depending on their ages, they may appreciate being given the chance of saying when their plates are full enough. This way, children may be more inclined to try something new, especially when they feel that they are in charge of choice and consumption.

Model what you want to see.

If your children see you eating the foods you’d like them to try, chances are that they will eventually try them too. I’ve known many children who have lived on peanut butter and jam sandwiches or mac and cheese or chicken nuggets and pizza for years and then begin eating broccoli and carrots as they grow older.

How Can I Get my Child to Eat New Foods?

Make food fun.

Janet Nezon, founder of Rainbow Plate finds creative ways to show children (and adults) in centres such as schools and at community events how to appreciate the beauty of food by exposing them to a rainbow of rich colours and textures. Without the pressure to eat them because they are healthy, many children are turned onto trying new food because they are excited to experience them. I had the privilege of interviewing Janet as a guest on one of my podcasts on my site ( about secrets to raising a healthy eater. You may want to check it out.

Bottom line is to try to make food fun. If there’s too much pressure to try new foods, if children feel tricked into eating foods by having them disguised or if they feel forced to eat everything on their plates, then the opposite of your desire to encourage them to try new foods will occur.


sara-dimerman_400x400Sara Dimerman is a psychologist in the Toronto area who has provided counselling to individuals, couples and families for more than twenty-five years. She is the author of four books – two for parents and two for couples – the most recent of which is “Why Married Couples Don’t have Sex….at least not with each other!” and is a columnist and podcast producer/host for sites and print media across North America and internationally. She is a regular guest on radio and television and is interviewed frequently for articles online, in newspapers and magazines. Sara is married and has two daughters. Visit Sara‘s website: or follow her on Twitter @helpmesara.


Maria Lianos-Carbone is the author of “Oh Baby! A Mom’s Self-Care Survival Guide for the First Year”, and publisher of, a leading lifestyle blog for women.


  1. Robin (Masshole Mommy) Reply

    I have been struggling with this for the past 8 years with my youngest. I figure that someday he will realize what he;s missing.

  2. I always had this problem with my son. He NEVER liked anything new I gave him. But I look at him now in his 30’s and he eats everything. Love those suggestions

  3. We have struggled with picky eaters for years. I really like the tip of letting them serve themselves – we haven’t done that one. We do have them help us shop and cook the food (even little kids can mix ingredients together and wash veggies).

  4. I love all of your tips. I’m always trying to get the grands to try new foods but it’s not always easy. I’m going to try letting them serve themselves as I think this would work best for them and hopefully it will open the door to trying new things for them.

  5. I think we should really be creative with the way we present the food we want them to eat. Kids are getting smarter and the usual “look at the airplane” spoon trick does not work anymore.

  6. Interesting, this is my problem before when my kids were in a stage hard to eat new food. Thanks for this, I’ll share this to my friends.

  7. I’ve also read that if you let your children literally PLAY with their food that they will more than likely taste it and like it! This makes me thing of when my 3 year old plays with playdough. You’re not supposed to eat it but since she is playing with it, and it seems “food like” she always gives it a try. Mind you – it won’t hurt her and I let her know that it is not food, but now I let her play with other things (building with carrots, covering things with lettuce leaves…) <3 Christine, The Choosy Mommy,

  8. Elizabeth O. Reply

    I so agree with this list. It’s hard to introduce new dishes to our kids. You really have to get creative with it.

  9. Interesting, and that is my problem with my two kids they was a picky eaters especially on the new food, I know i can survive for this

  10. We are pretty lucky with our six year old. He will try most anything at least once. These tips are great too!!

  11. I like to try and make food fun. I think I have the pickiest 7yr old on the planet.

  12. Great advice! I have noticed that the same foods I tend to frown at my Kiddies do too. I have learned to try new things in front of them it has helped with them being open to new tastes and it’s even broaden my own taste…

  13. These are such great tips, I’ll have to keep them all in mind when I’m trying to convince my niece to eat while watching her! Thanks for sharing! 🙂

  14. Pingback: How Can I Get my Child to Eat New Foods? – HelpMeSara

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