Fussy eating for a young child is perfectly normal, but it can be a serious concern for all parents. How can we get past it and make sure our child is getting all the nutrition they need?
When a child is a fussy eater, it usually isn’t about the food itself, it’s often about your child wanting to be independent. Here are our tips and advice for managing a fussy eating child and making mealtimes more enjoyable for the whole family.
Create faces or animal shapes out of their food. Your toddler may find it funny to eat happy face with a broccoli nose or the peas that look like a head of hair!
Your child might be more open to eating food that they have placed on their plate themselves, so let them choose what goes on their plate, and let them serve it out.
Fruit and vegetables are important for a growing child. They contain important nutrients like vitamin C and folic acid, so offer some with every meal. Don’t worry if it doesn’t all get eaten – any amount is better than none. Try asking your child to try a certain number of bites and create a game to see how many bites they can get to. Reward their achievement with congratulations or a round of applause.
Puree vegetables and sneak them into sauces and mash potatoes. Use "food that looks like other food" techniques like Frozen Fruit on a stick that look like ice lollies, or fruit smoothies instead of diluting juice. The funner the better.
The worst outcome of a fussy eating session is the full blown tantrum. once you child is in a tantrum state, the chances of them eating anything is zero. So your best course of action is to remain calm and don't reward the behaviour. Ask your child to eat, in a firm but calm manner and avoid the tantrum.
Give your toddler an apron and encourage them to help you in the kitchen. Being involved in the preparation of a meal can stimulate a child’s appetite and they may be more likely to eat the food that they’ve helped prepare. During the meal time, if your child starts to refuse, remind them that they cooked the meal. Help them feel pride in what they've done and they are more likely to eat up. Ask them to tell other members of the family how they cooked it and point out when others are eating the food they cooked.
It’s tempting to offer your child a sugary treat as a reward for eating their dinner but if you offer fatty, sugary or salty snacks as bribes, you’re giving them the message that eating the healthy food is a chore – something you have to endure before you get to the sweet bit. It’s important to encourage positive associations with healthy food so it’s better to offer other rewards such as playtime or stickers.baby food, baby health