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Picky eater help: 12 tips for parents

Sarah Caron is a Connecticut-based freelance writer and editor. She lives with her wonderful husband, two adorable kids and two funny beagles. Check out her food blog at Sarah's Cucina Bella.

Getting kids to try new foods

It's awful to sit down to dinner and have to field a flurry "I don't want" and "I don't like" exclamations. How can you raise healthy eaters who aren't picky? We asked Food Network's Robin Miller to offer some advice.

Want your kids to like everything? That's every parent's dream. But the fact is that just like any adult, kids are going to have their likes and dislikes. However, that doesn't mean you shouldn't expose them to a little of everything. In fact, having kids try different foods can open their minds (and palates) to flavors. Here's how.

Involve them

Do your kids cook with you? If they don't, they should be, says Miller. "When you get your kids involved in the kitchen, they are more likely to try new foods," says Miller.

The kitchen is a great place for kids to get up close and personal with vegetables, fruits and other foods that they might not otherwise be interested in.

How can you involve kids?

Add: When you are chopping up vegetables like tomatoes, cucumbers or whatever you are cooking with, pause to let your child move the pieces from the cutting board to the pot or mixing bowl. Just be sure that sharp or hot objects are away from the little helping hands.

Stir: Kids love to stir and whisk things. Let them help mix when you are baking, making pancakes or stirring together marinade ingredients.

Spin: Making a salad? Let kids whirl the lettuce leaves in the spinner to dry them. They'll love getting involved and setting the bowl in a whirl.

Snip: For young children practicing dexterity, Miller says that those kiddie shears can be great from cutting herbs. Set them up with herbs like cilantro, basil, parsley or chives and let them cut it into small pieces with safety scissors (the ones with rounded tips).

Respect them

"Let's face it: not everybody has the same tastes. There's nothing wrong with serving them what they like," says Miller. She says to keep it within reason. Don't make a full different meal for each family member, but it's okay to make two vegetables so everyone has a love at the table. Or, if there is a protein that your child hates, let them have an alternative like cheese or a handful of almonds.

It's not about being a short order cook, but rather making sure that everyone is well fed and their tastes are respected. "We all have different tastes. In small portions, short order cooking is not a bad idea to ensure that kids are getting all the nutrients they need," says Miller.

Is it normal for toddlers to be picky eaters? Find out here!

Next page: Tips for introducing new foods

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