Helping Children Try New Foods

As a parent, we encounter battles every day.  Some worth fighting, others not so much.

If you are arguing with your child over food you should know that most doctors would tell you to stop.  Stop forcing your child to eat 1 more bite… stop using food as a bribe… stop making more than one dish for dinner… stop the insanity.

A good rule of thumb from the Institute of Medicine:  Your child should eat about 35-40 calories per pound a day (infants more like 35-50 calories per pound).  So, if your child is 22 lbs  it would be good to finish 770 calories a day.  You and I both know, however, some children eat a lot one day and a little the next.  Use this number as an average.

So, give your child healthy choices, let him/her choose between 2 items you can live with – stop going back to get more selections.  FYI:  1 chicken nugget is about 70 calories, 1/2 an apple or 1/2 a cup of peas is about 50 calories and a cup of milk is about 110.  If each meal is like this – that is 690 calories plus 1 or 2 snacks, lets say a yogurt (100 calories).  So, to put this into perspective, if your child eats 3 chicken nuggets, 3 small servings of fruit or veggie, a yogurt and 3 cups of milk – that is enough for the whole day (and then some).

The bottom line it should not be about how much your child eats at every sitting.  It should be about healthy eating habits.  Be a good role model.  Eat together.  Eat when you are hungry.  Stop rushing or making a big deal out of the meal.  Children eat when they are hungry.  Stop worrying.

Danielle Gallop
(Sources: USDA, Institute of Medicine,