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Institute the One-Bite Rule

Institute the One-Bite Rule

Many dietitians, nurses, and pediatricians have found that picky eaters can be won over to new and interesting foods by employing a trick of the trade called the "one-bite rule." It is as simple as the name implies: you simply ask that your child try one single bite of the new food you're introducing.

By the time this rule can be applied—namely, to your toddlers and young children—they have already acquired a simple set of tastes. Don't blitz them with tangy foods or mixed dishes. Keep things simple and introduce one food at a time. You'll be the most successful if you introduce new foods on days when your kids are the most hungry, so plan ahead and engineer their hunger! More specifically, omit snacking during the afternoon between lunch and dinner for best results.

Explain to your child that it is okay to not like something, but that it is important to try it before making up his mind. Most importantly, reinforce his cooperative behavior and give him lots of praise when he takes that bite. And make sure you and your spouse are following the one-bite rule yourselves. If you don't like something, say so and then explain your reasons. This sets a good model for your children.

In its simplest terms, the one-bite rule just means everyone in the family needs to try at least one bite of a new food. If your child doesn't want more, accept his decision. Have him pick out a new vegetable at the store to try. You may not like it, but let him try it anyway, since he might like it. Use a cookbook to find recipes to make it more exciting even for you. Don't be discouraged or show signs of disappointment when your child declines a second bite. Accept his decision, acknowledging his cooperation in trying the new food. Don't forget to try again later, again and again.

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