Frequently Asked Questions
A new food at home can be any food that is new to the family, or specifically, to the child. This can be as simple as a different color apple or different shaped pasta. It can also be a new type of vegetable or bread, or a new way of preparing a food (think potatoes – scalloped, boiled, mashed, baked, fried, etc.). What is new to one family may be common to another. So, a new food is defined for families as something that is not part of their regular meals or snacks at the time.
This behavior is known as a “food jag” and is very common with preschool aged children. These food ‘jags’ may last for a few days to a couple of weeks. We have all seen kids who will eat nothing else but Mac-n-Cheese or PB&J sandwiches for every meal for a short time. This is a completely normal developmental phase for preschoolers. This is similar to preschoolers asking adults to read the same book over and over again. Jags can occur when something in the preschoolers’ world has changed. It can be as big as a new sibling being born or as small as his favorite red crayon disappearing. To compensate for the new unknown in his/her life, they use food as something stable in their changing world. Thus, the one thing they can control is food. When your child is on a food jag, continue to offer a variety of foods and avoid focusing on the food jag. They will eventually get over the jag. Hang in there! In addition to food jags, preschoolers learn to get attention by refusing to eat. This is also completely normal for this age group. To deal with this, you should give attention before or after the mealtime and avoid paying excessive attention to a child who refuses to eat. It may take 8-12 times when you introduce a new food before the child is willing to try. Children should be encouraged but never pressured to try new foods.
Any food that is new to your child can substitute for the new foods that your child is trying in the classroom. It is important that the new foods fit your family’s budget. Gouda cheese, for example, can be expensive; therefore, you can take your child to the cheese section of the grocery store and have your child pick out a new kind of cheese that fits into the family food budget. Feta, Muenster, Colby jack, or provolone cheese can be less expensive options to start with. Daikon radishes are generally less expensive but still can be hard to find. If your child has enjoyed daikon radishes, look for parsnips, jicama, or simply another vegetable that is new to your child at the grocery store.
The Mighty Moves curriculum and Play Together activities have been designed to enhance children’s gross motor development. Research has shown that children with stronger motor skills tend to be more physically active. Also, when children are accustomed to moving at school and home, physical activity will become a habit for them. All of this translates to a more active child. Increased physical activity has been linked to a healthier body weight.
It is definitely not necessary to have special exercise equipment to play with your child. In fact, you probably already have objects around your house that could be used in active play. Check out our “Play Topgether” page to find activities that you can do at home to . With a little creativity you can design fun, free activities that can be done in any home.
Eating habits are established early in life—during the first six years. These habits are carried into adulthood. Adults who have a more varied diet have less risk for some chronic diseases, such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer, and obesity. If we can increase children’s willingness to try new foods, improve the variety of foods in their diet, and establish healthy eating habits, then they may have decreased risk for some chronic diseases as adults, including obesity.
What are some creative ways that I can offer new foods to my child?
Really, the sky is the limit! Kids love to eat foods that resemble things that are familiar to them- think letters, fun faces, trees, flowers, creatures, and animal. Let your imagination and creativity run wild! For ideas and tips, please visit our “Taste Together” page for fun food activities to do at home.