When you’re ready to have children eat meals with the family, recognize that it will take them time to adjust to the food. Children’s taste buds are still developing and it is very important that you have reasonable expectations. Most people develop their likes and dislikes in childhood but then begin to branch out more in college and well into adulthood. Many people will have strong dislikes even as adults. It takes people about 10 times of trying something before knowing if they like it.
Be mindful to prepare meals with at least one thing you know your child will eat. So if you are having soup as a family, perhaps they will at least eat bread or crackers. Do not add anything else to the table other members of the family aren’t eating. If you are having a meal with rice and sauce, ask them if they want their sauce on top of the rice or on the side. Keep trying! Often families get discouraged and play into children’s food preferences, ie. making only green beans as the side vegetable because it’s the only thing they will eat. Make your dinner as you normally would, while making sure there is at least one thing they like and serve them a very small portion of each thing. Think 2 tablespoons of each. When you serve small portions you help to keep it simple for children because a big serving of food is overwhelming. You also give children the control to ask for more and an opportunity for you to say YES!
Encourage but do not force your child to try anything on their plate. If they do not wish to try it, they can simply leave it on the plate. Try not to play into requests to not have it, not eat, or have something else. The goal is for children to try different foods. If they don’t feel like eating it, then leave it on the plate. If they don’t feel like eating, they can sit with you and talk about their day. If they want something else, you can make a plan to have that for dinner another time.