The Food Friends: Encouraging Preschoolers to Try New Foods


Most children are naturally picky eaters. Teachers and caregivers can help children overcome their picky eating by allowing them to explore and taste new foods. With the rise in childhood overweight, it is important that we establish healthful eating habits early in life. One way to do this is to encourage young children to try new foods. The preschool years are a critical time to introduce and encourage healthy nutrition because early exposure to healthful foods helps children establish good eating habits that carry into adulthood (Birch 1998).

Unfortunately, the diets of most young children are poor or need improvement. Children’s diets typically mirror the deficiencies of their parents’ diets—high in fat, sodium, and sugar and low in fiber. In a Nutrition Insights report (USDA 2001), only 36 percent of two- to three-year-olds were noted as having a good diet, and this percent- age decreased with increasing age. Much of the decline in diet quality for children occurred between the two- to three-year-old age groups and the four- to six-year-old groups, falling from 36 to 17 percent.

Source: National Association for the Education of Young Children

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