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try something new!

by Leena D. Saini

Happy New Year everyone!

I have a story to share, one that involves taking risk.  Well, ok, not that much risk, but for a little one's taste buds, it might be! And that's ok. Trying new things, including different foods and flavors, should be on everyone's 2016 agenda. 

I stumbled upon this resolution last month, as I was enjoying a night out with some mom friends.  We all have children under the age of five so it is always a treat to get dressed up and have someone else do the cooking for a change (it's also a treat not having food smeared all over your blouse, as is usually the case at home!)

We were sitting at a lovely Asian fusion restaurant, where aromas of ginger, coconut and lemongrass wafted out of the kitchen.  As we were munching on fish rolls and edamame, one of the moms commented on how her little one would never eat what we were eating. That it was too "different" for him and "he'd never try it."  Another mom mentioned that her child would be "scared" of the coconut curry she had ordered.

I was kind of blown away.

Ok, I was really blown away!

For one, my friends were all eating plates of highly seasoned foods (the whole group loves the bold flavors found in Thai-style curries and Japanese soups and starters) as they were saying this.  How could you love something so much and simultaneously find it scary?  And two, I was surprised at the assumption that a child would instantly dislike a meal or an ingredient simply because it was seasoned differently than what you might be typically eating at home.

How do you know if you (or a child) will like it if you don't try it?

Both of my little girls happily nibble on dishes like Pad Thai, curried lentils or cumin scented potatoes.  But it wasn't always this way! It took a few tries for their taste buds to acclimate to a new dish, but after that it became part of their normal repertoire.  Science backs this up: it is a well-known fact that introducing a variety of flavors, ingredients, seasonings and spices from an early age results in more adventurous and less picky eating as the child grows older.

Though I know my little ones won't love everything they eat (my younger daughter dislikes carrots while my older one finds little joy in BBQ chicken), I don't ever want to deprive them of the opportunity to try something new. Little ones have tastes all of their own and it's our job as parents to nurture their tiny taste buds by exposing them to variety.

Don’t be intimidated by introducing your child to spice or world cuisine. Start with baby steps. If you're eating out, offer your little one a bite of what you are eating.  Ramen noodles, Pad Thai and other similar noodle dishes are and fun and kid-friendly options.  Indian restaurant? Mix some curry with rice and offer that.  Everything from a bite of seasoned fish to a piece of garlic bread can help broaden your child's palette.  As with all new foods, it might take a few tries to get your little one to enjoy it…so don't give up just because they protest or spit it out on the first try. A small taste now can turn into a great love later.

It's a New Year! Be bold and fearless when it comes to teaching your child how to eat well and eat diverse.

For more ways to spice up baby and toddler food, please visit me at www.masalababyfood.com or on Facebook, www.facebook.com/masalababyfood

Note: This information was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the businesses in question before making your plans.

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