How to introduce new foods to children – video series

Early childhood services

We have developed a 4-part ‘How-to’ video series on introducing children to new foods.

Young boy reaching for colour plates

In each bite-size video our early years nutrition expert, Amy, uncovers how you can introduce new foods using simple and practical ideas that link to learning outcomes and skills development.

1. Introduce new foods through meal times

It’s important to make sure you have a happy and supportive mealtime environment at your service. This encourages children to explore new or different foods in a safe manner.

View video transcript

[Text displayed on screen] How to introduce new foods through mealtimes  

[Text displayed on screen] Amy Waken, Dietician.  

[Amy Waken, Dietician] Hi, it’s Amy from the Healthy Eating advisory service  

Today we’re going to talk about how to create a happy and supportive mealtime environment in your childcare service.  

So having a neutral mealtime environment means children feel comfortable exploring new foods whilst they don’t feel the pressure to eat them.  

And this aligns with the quality areas one, two, three and five of the national Quality standard.  

[Text displayed on screen] Quality Areas. Resources promote competence. Allows children to extend learning. Encourages self-regulation. Helps to program learning opportunities.  

It provides resources that promotes competence, it allows children to extend their learning, it encourages self-regulation and it helps to program learning opportunities.  

So, it means that children don’t feel pressured or rushed to eat everything on their plate.  

Instead, you should allow children to eat to their body’s natural cues and rely on their ability to eat how much they want and what they want to satisfy their hunger.  

Keep it peaceful. Make sure there’s not too much loud music or other distractions going on.  

Allow children to serve themselves and use age-appropriate cutlery like those you can see here on the table as well as here on the trolley.  

Be a good role model eating healthy foods and talking about food in a healthy and positive way.  

There are so many ways you can talk about food with the children. You can talk about the colour, the taste, the texture, how it sounds, and you chew it in your mouth, and so much more.  

Allow children time to explore new foods and don’t make a big deal when they refuse something.  

If you see children playing with their food, it could be for a number of reasons.  

So before reacting, think about why they might be doing it. Are they hungry or full?  

Perhaps they’re not comfortable with that food yet and they’re exploring it before they’re ready to taste it or put it in their mouth.  

Maybe the food’s too hot or it’s too cold. Are there other distractions going on in the room? Could they be feeling a little tired or unwell?  

Remember, it is your responsibility to provide nutritious foods for children in your care.  

And it’s their responsibility to decide how much they want to eat from it.  

So, if you are looking for some more resources on how to promote healthy eating at your centre, visit our website at And we will see you next time. 

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2. Introduce new foods through PLAY

Playing with healthy eating themed food resources helps to normalise healthy foods and drinks and can lead to better understanding and acceptance of new foods.

View video transcript

[Text displayed on screen] Amy Waken, Dietician.
[Amy Waken, Dietician] Hi, it’s Amy from the Healthy Eating advisory service.
Today I want to talk to you about promoting healthy eating by using food-based play. So, we know that using healthy eating themed activities, foods and resources really helps to normalize healthy foods and drinks.
And its really positive way for children to familiarize themselves with some new or different foods, taking advantage of their real preference to be very tactile and learn by exploring their senses.
So, using pictures, books, posters and toy foods are a really great way to teach children about food and it really helps to normalize healthy foods and drinks at the same time. And it explores a lot of the learning outcomes that you’re working towards.
Also, so you can do activities like counting or naming colours or practicing verbalizing what they see whilst using healthy foods and drinks as the examples.
So, you can set up a little mini shop or a home corner with healthy foods for them to interact with. Kids love that. You could display some books or posters on healthy foods and drinks. You can see some examples that I’ve got up here.
[Text displayed on screen] Children are effective communicators.
There are so many wonderful books out there and reading is a really fantastic way to work on learning outcomes, especially learning outcome five of the UILS and Responsive teaching practices.
One of my favourite ones is here it is I’m having a rainbow for dinner. It’s got this great superhero theme throughout.
They get to explore all the different colours of the rainbow and taste them.
It really encourages that exploratory nature in children, which is perfect for so many kids that are not sure about new foods.
Another great resource I love are these fruit and vegetable posters. You can get all sorts of different varieties, but these ones are some of my favourites.
You can see they’re colourful, they’re engaging, they’re great conversation starters and they’re a great thing to have around the mealtime especially as well, so children can identify what they might be trying.
So, no matter what the activity, representing healthy foods in play is a really great idea and you can get really creative about it.
So, the next time you are working on your program, don’t forget to incorporate healthy foods.
And if you’re wanting some more tips, go to our website at See you later.
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3. Introduce new foods through SCIENCE

Cooking is a science activity that can connect developmental learning outcomes to heathy eating habits. While you are teaching children about counting and measuring, they are also getting more familiar with new foods and more likely to try them.

View video transcript

[Text displayed on screen] Amy Waken, Dietician.  

[Amy Waken, Dietician] Hi, it’s Amy from the Healthy Eating advisory service and today I want to talk to you about promoting healthy eating by incorporating food into science activities.  

Using food in science connects what children are learning in the classroom with the healthy eating habits you’re encouraging at meal time.  

And cooking is a really easy way to introduce children to science. They can see the ingredients transform in front of their eyes as they mix things together, or they apply heat.  

And it really encourages children to apply a lot of different scientific concepts.  

[Text displayed on screen] Things like observing, classifying, comparing, measuring, investigating, reasoning, predicting and communicating, just to name a few.  

So I’ve got some great examples here that I want to talk to in particular.  

So, when you’re thinking about doing baking activities, things like using or making these beautiful carrot muffins or these corn and broccoli fritters, children are able to observe and predict what’s going to happen when the batter goes into the oven or is getting some heat applied on the fry pan. And that’s a great skill for them to use.  

They’re also using their mathematic skills as they’re measuring with cups and a teaspoon and tablespoon measures there as well.  

When you’re doing things like these beautiful summertime icy poles, they’re again observing, but they’re also able to see all the beautiful colours.  

They can predict what’s going to happen if they mix them all together or if they keep them separate and take their time layer by layer.  

The final one that I wanted to talk to was using popcorn. Popcorn is such a fun activity. Kids love it and they can really use their prediction skills.  

And as they can see how much a handful of popcorn will turn into, how much space will it take up in this bowl, for example. And it’s such a fun little noisy little activity for them to have a play with as well.  

Now, all of these activities use a lot of their learning outcomes, especially a lot of the Stem skills that you might be working on with the children in your care.  

They practice turn taking, they’re discussing things in groups, they’re able to use those social skills as well as looking at concentration, they’re finding gross motor skills as well as mathematics, which are so important.  

And a bonus is kids are much more likely to try the things that they’ve had a hand in making.  

So, if they’re not too sure about broccoli, once they’ve had a turn in making these fritters, they might just be that little bit more likely to give it go and have a little taste or explore.  

So, if you are looking for some great cooking activity ideas to use in your classroom, head to our website at And we’ll see you next time on our channel. 

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4. Introduce new foods through ART

Using food in art activities helps to normalise healthy foods and drinks and allows exposure to new foods children might not be comfortable with yet.

Note: Art is just one of many sensory-based methods you can use to combat fussy eating. Like all planned teaching activities, food-based art should be intentional and meet a need you have identified with the children in your care, such as supporting a child that is neophobic towards particular foods. Using real food doesn’t have to mean food waste. You can use scraps such as beetroot tops or carrot peels. You can also repurpose food used in art activities, like seeds, which could be planted after use.

View video transcript

[Text displayed on screen] How to introduce new food through art.
[Text displayed on screen] Amy Waken, Dietician.
[Amy Waken, Dietician] Hi, it’s Amy from the Healthy Eating advisory service. Today I want to talk to you about introducing children to new foods using food-based art activities.
So, we know it’s developmentally normal for kids to be fussy or uncertain with new foods. But did you know that art activities can really help to normalize healthy foods and drinks, but also allow them to be exposed to new foods?
So, in front of me here, you can see I’ve got some great examples of art activities using real foods. And I can promise you kids have a ball making these.
So, you can see here we’ve got some beetroot stamping as well as some broccoli artworks. These really allow children to explore with some vegetables they might not feel comfortable having a taste at the table with yet. And one of my all-time favourites is this scoop and transfer bean and legume activity.
So, using whatever utensils you want them to use, spoons are a great one. Just scooping and transferring, sorting all the different types of beans and legumes you might have on hand for them.
It links to so many learning outcomes as well as a lot of the quality areas, including one, two and three.
[Text displayed on screen] Autonomy, agency, fine motor skills, hand eye coordination, social skills, play-based learning.
And it really focuses on developing their autonomy as well as sense of agency, their fine motor skills, hand eye coordination skills, and their social skills as they learn how to share.
And it really encourages that play based learning. So, with all of these activities, you’re helping to familiarize foods which will help with those classy eating tendencies we know they have at that age.
And by using healthy food items, you’re also helping to normalize healthy eating, which is so important.
So the next time you’re planning classroom art activities, consider incorporating new foods or real foods.
And for more ways to promote healthy eating at your service, go to our website at and we’ll see you next time our channel.
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For more information please phone 1300 22 52 88 or email

Except where otherwise indicated, the images in this document show models and illustrative settings only, and do not necessarily depict actual services, facilities or recipients of services. This document may contain images of deceased Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. In this document, ‘Aboriginal’ refers to both Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. ‘Indigenous’ or ‘Koori/Koorie’ is retained when part of the title of a report, program or quotation. Copyright © State of Victoria 2016

Written and reviewed by dietitians and nutritionists at Nutrition Australia, with support from the Victorian Government.

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