A waffle is shown with various fruits as toppings.
Introducing healthy foods alongside proven favorites is a wonderful way to get kids to try new tastes. (For Spectrum Health Beat)

You probably remember that fun acronym for learning the points of the compass.

Never Eat Soggy Waffles.

Well, it’s also a fun way to map out ideas for raising explorative and healthy eaters.

Want a child who asks for celery sticks, quinoa and peppers? Brussels sprouts and rice with curry?

Just remember the compass—NESW.

Read on for helpful tips to start a positive food relationship at a young age.

Name those foods

Nutrition education is critical. Help your child become more involved in grocery shopping, cooking and learning the colors of foods. This can spark an interest in news foods—and a willingness to try them.

Keep in mind that kids who help prepare food are also more likely to eat fruits and vegetables.

Proper nutrition education can ultimately increase your child’s willingness to try new tastes.

Expose your kids to foods

Expose infants and children to various foods consistently. This helps decrease the likelihood of a child having a hard time with foods.

With consistent exposure, you’re teaching about different flavors, textures and cultures.

Even the way a child is exposed to foods at an early age can make an impact.

Introduce grains and vegetables first, then add fruits and the occasional sweeter item. Make it fun with theme nights and different cultural foods.

Remember, consistency is critical. When kids are continually given the same thing repeatedly, it’s unlikely they’ll try new things when presented with it—especially when children are struggling with sensory or behavioral troubles. Be consistent about being different.

Sit together

A routine can help children become more open to different foods. When you provide family dinners and a routine of meals or snacks, children know what to expect.

This may help ease the anxiety in any situation. It’s also important to eliminate distractions at meal time—which means no electronics at the table.

‘We all eat it’

Yep, trying new foods or those that are less appetizing applies to everyone.

Ever heard that saying that kids hear half of what you say and do 100% of what you do? It’s real with food, too.

Children who see adults eat various foods and try new foods are more likely to do the same.

One recommendation: If your child is still hungry but isn’t enjoying some of the news foods you’ve offered, let them have a “No, thank you” bite.

What’s a “No, thank you” bite? When your little one tries a bite of food and doesn’t like it, allow them to say “No, thank you,” and then go on to have more of their favorite item. Or if they prefer, excuse them from eating.

If you feel overwhelmed with these tips, remember that progress can can start with small steps.

Introduce one new food at a time, alongside favorite foods. The younger the child, the sooner they’ll develop the taste.

You don’t need to heap on the Brussels sprouts the first time, or even the 10th time. It can take up to 20 times for someone to develop a taste for new food.

By emphasizing variety, education and routine, you can help your little one develop a deep appreciation for healthy foods.