Well, an article published in the June issue of Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics says yes!
The goal: Get kids to accept vegetables they had previously deemed icky.
The result: When a parents repeatedly exposed the child to a vegetable they did (eventually) eat it.
It's no secret veggies are not kids favorite foods! Even in the dietitian's house, veggies are far from gobbled up! There are lots of reasons why kids refuse to eat these nutritional gems but one reasons is because early childhood (ages 2-5) tends to be a sensitive period for developing food preferences. Clinically called food neophobia, kids will often reject novel foods and limit their variety.
Food preferences are developed through exposure to specific flavors. You probably know this about yourself, there are flavors you enjoy (sweet, savory, salty, etc) and you child is no different. In this study parents were given reward stickers, written information stressing the importance of repeated exposure, and videos showing how to serve chosen foods and how to record the outcomes. Parents were to offer the vegetable for a given period of time, then give it a rest - meaning not offering for a period of time.
The process was repeated 14 times and at the end of those times there was a measurable increase in the likelihood of a child eating the food and enjoying the food - yippee!!
Moral of the story: Never give up! Keep offering foods to your child in a matter-of-fact, non-confrontational type of way.
Side note.... the case for rewards:
In the early versions of this study kids who tried certain foods were given a small reward but researchers quickly found once that reward was no longer offered only a small percentage of kids continued to try the foods. It is importnat to NOT tie food to rewards (food or non-food) as it it likely the plan with backfire.