As a kid I remember feeling disdainful of the kids whose mothers cut the crusts off their sandwiches. My mom would never let me waste 20% of my bread, and I didn't really understand what was so bad about a bread crust, anyway. I mean, save your dislike for something truly disgusting–like liver. But I grew up truly enjoying most food, and my husband and I decided to encourage our children to have a broad range of food likes. Here are some food rules our family lives by.
1. Serve them home cooking.
We skipped commercial baby food. Except for rice cereal at the very start, our kids just ate well-mashed bits of what we ate at every meal. I think that got them used to the flavors of family cooking right from the start. That was back before I even knew that a lot of commercially prepared baby food contains a fair bit of high fructose corn syrup–not the healthiest ingredient in the world.
2. Try just a couple bites.
We encourage kids to taste everything offered at a meal. The standard rule at our house is: You need to eat at least as many bites as you are old. So, a 3-year-old would eat 3 bites of carrots. A 6-year-old would need to eat 6 bites of spaghetti. The only exception to this rule is true gagging aversion, which does happen occasionally.
3. Limit the junk.
Soda pop and potato chips come with us on vacations and occasionally when company visits. But in general, we avoid high-sugar, high-salt, highly processed foods that serve to dull taste buds to the deliciousness of "real food."