Involve Your Kids
Children who are involved in shopping and cooking are healthier and more adventurous eaters compared to children who are disconnected from their food's origins and preparation. Involving kids in the shopping and preparation of meals gives parents the opportunity to talk to their child/children about their choices. Involve your kids early on, as early as 3 years of age. Let your child choose an ingredient, experiment and create. Kid's want to show you your creations and they want them to be accepted and enjoyed.
Don't discourage the adventures of trying new foods (or different variations) by making kids eat what they end up not liking. Forcing kids to eat new foods they may not initially like will only convince them that trying new foods are not worth the risk. Instead consider introducing the previously rejected healthy food every 6 months, in slightly different form or setting if possible.
Say 'Yes to a mess'. Look at the extra mess as part of an investment in your child's life long health. Teach them to clean up by helping them as you do with the food preparation. Cleaning up is part of the process and can be a positive experience particularly when done together.
Let kids transform food. Mashing foods such as avocados, potatoes, or bananas can be very satisfying to kids. Kids also have a natural interest and need to master somewhat dangerous elements such as fire or heat and sharp instruments. See Risks are Essential for Children's Healthy Development. Begin by teaching them to cut soft produce with a plastic or wooden blade knife.
Dinosaur Trees & X-ray Carrots
Children increased consumption of vegetables when vegetables were called exciting names such as Dinosaur Trees (broccoli) and X-ray Carrots. In another study, children, who had previously refused to eat their vegetables, were more likely to eat vegetables on their plates when eating with someone they admired or respected who also ate vegetables.
Milk Fat in Children's Milk
Children drinking low fat milk as their only milk source in the three weeks prior to illness had five times the risk of a doctor's visit for acute gastrointestinal illness as did children who only drank whole milk during the same time period.
Koopman JS, Turkisk VJ, Monto AS, Thompson FE, Isaacson RE (1984). Milk fat and gastrointestinal illness. Am J Public Health. 74(12), 1371-3.