From Stacey Seybold Hiller, M.S.,CCC-SLP, Pediatric Speech Language Pathologist and Owner, Dream Dinners of Indianapolis, IN.
Once your child has developed enough motor skills to sit by themselves in a high chair, it is time for solid foods! This is an exciting time in a child’s life. This is also the best time to introduce your child to a wide variety of tastes and textures. Even though it makes more work for parents, a messy (toddler) eater will be a good eater later on. The more children get to see, touch, smell, and taste a variety of foods, the less picky they will become later in life. Experimenting with food in this way during the toddler stages is a very important sensory experience. Children that are exposed to many food textures will be more comfortable with things such as finger paints and sand castles later in life. Even very young infants benefit from being around the family while the meal is being prepared and eaten. Babies will become comfortable with the food smells, and then by the time they have foods in front of them, those smells won’t be unfamiliar or scary to them. In addition, the language stimulation at meal time is extremely valuable for baby!
Remember: most children won’t accept new foods the first time you offer them. It takes multiple exposures to food for children to become brave enough to actually taste. Sometimes it takes up to ten offerings before a child will begin to eat something new. Don’t give up when your child refuses a new food. Keep offering it on a regular basis-eating will be a positive experience for everyone! Picky eaters are made, not born.
Stacey Seybold Hiller has practiced pediatric speech pathology for more than 18 years. Both she and her husband felt they were ready for a career change, so they opened Dream Dinners in Indianapolis with a partner. Now she can further her passion for healthy family meals around the table at home!