Neophobia most often affects children between the ages of 2 to 10. Although it is quite common for a few weeks (or months) during the first years of a child’s life, you shouldn’t let it interfere with a child’s nutritional balance by allowing it to become too pronounced or lasting too long. Neophobia, by definition, the fear of tasting new foods, is most common in fruits and vegetables, with the issue compounded by snacking on unhealthy foods like sweets.
Neophobia can have different causes: in young children, it may stem from the dread of an unpleasant taste or, simply the pleasure of saying “no” to parents. More than just a fad, neophobia can become pathological if the refusal becomes constant and recurrent, and it can even have an effect on your child’s development by causing deficiencies. To limit this from an early age, you should be particularly attentive with your children’s feeding habits and if necessary, look for tips to facilitate their feeding.
Go at your own pace
It’s counterproductive to force your children to eat because that will just make them even more determined to refuse their food. Of course, that’s easy to say but in practice it’s more difficult to do. When dealing with a neophobe, one should be very patient and try to be as understanding as possible.
In reality, if you keep offering the same food in different forms your child will eventually accept it. Try various styles of cooking: oven-cooked, grilled, steamed, boiled, pan-fried; and in different textures: pureed, mashed, crunchy or cooked, natural and whole, diced, with or without skin … Put all your efforts into its appearance!
Explain to your children that it is important to be curious and to taste a food several times to begin to appreciate it, and that varied eating is absolutely fundamental to remain in good health. You can also put it in the oven while explaining to him the origin of food, their possible transformation and their benefits.
Do not give your children too many sugary products: children love sugar and will quickly become addicted to it. And here’s where the challenge lies; to get your children to taste a food that they initially don’t like but that with time, or by the manner it is prepared, will become accepted. For example, think of endives with its bitter taste, acidic foods like lemon or strong tasting foods like certain cheeses. Sweet products are optional, so we don’t have to give to our children them at such a young age.
Do not try to hide the taste of food
Even if it succeeds in getting your child to eat essential vitamins and minerals, hiding fruits and vegetables in, for example, cakes and other preparations will only push the problem back rather than resolving it. It is the same for sauces that cover the taste of food. This is a tactic that should not be over-used.
If all these solutions fail and your child continues to suffer from neophobia, you can always consult a psychologist.
However, the vast majority of the time, neophobia goes away as quickly as it happens and it’s usually quite natural. Neophobia is very common and should be treated with kindness. Maïa Baudelaire’s team is here to help you: in the Family program, you will be monitored by a qualified dietician-nutritionist who will adapt menus to your goals while taking in account the nutritional needs of your children. So your balanced meals, complete with a shopping list, will be taken care of by your nutritionist saving you huge amounts of time! Now all you need to do is to carefully follow the recipes!