So you’re kid only eats Cheetos. Yeah. I want to be on that diet too. Maybe throw in some chicken strips and Spaghettios, and you got yourself a toddler’s dream meal. A mom’s nightmare. Let’s work on this.
I am a huge fan of something called a food continuum. That is a fancy way of saying “I like every food to relate to the one before.” In example….when I have a kiddo who will only eat Cheetos, I give them Cheetos. And then I give them baby carrots. And I tell them “You love Cheetos. Look, these carrots are orange, just like your Cheetos.”
This is so ridiculous, right? Well, it works. Almost always. I go from fruit snacks to strawberries, French fries to string cheese, Doritos to watermelon slices. I do all of these things by saying “Look, this food has the same (color, shape, feeling, taste) as this one!”
There are a few rules to making this work. First, you have to have both foods on hand. Your child isn’t just going to take your word for it. You cannot hand your kid an olive and say “They are the exact same circle shape as the grapes you love.” No, that will not do. They are going to need both foods in their grubby little paws, just to make sure.
Second, this may take one or two tries. Maybe they will move the new food to a “no no plate” or put it in their mouth and assure you it is in fact, not the same as the food you related it to, so they must spit it out. (See more on that here). If this is the case, don’t worry. Research indicates that a child needs 7 exposures to a new food before they will feel comfortable with it.
And the last rule…be super clear about the similarities. Say things like “This licorice is long and skinny. This string cheese is long and skinny too.” Do not say things like “Look, the licorice and the string cheese are kind of the same shape.” They cannot be “kind of” similar. That is like saying an apple is “kind of” like a cake. It isn’t.
So there we have it. Let’s go from eating Cheetos to carrots peacefully my friends. God speed.