How to cope with fussy eaters
Whether this is ongoing or they are going through a faze, this should help make it a little easier.
Whether children refuse specific types of foods or certain meals, fussy eating is a common occurrence amongst youngsters. For parents, mealtimes can turn into stressful affairs, and over time they may worry that their child is not getting the vital nutrients they need. If you’re looking for all round parenting advice regarding fussy eating, there’s lots you can do to nip this problem in the bud.
Understand fussy eating
It’s important – and reassuring – to understand that, for many youngsters, being fussy about what they eat is usually a passing phase. It’s often associated with learning about new textures and flavours, and it’s worth noting that it can take a child up to 20 attempts to try something before they get used to it, and stop turning their nose up at it. Therefore, try to stay positive at mealtimes, and keep trying different foods, even if you haven’t had much success with them in the past. Rather than focusing on what a child has eaten on a particular day, try to concentrate on what they have consumed over a whole week. Keep a food diary if this helps.
Make mealtimes as relaxing as possible, so that children will feel comfortable about trying new textures and flavours. Children often refuse food because they fear the unfamiliar, so don’t fuel that anxiety by getting angry if they won’t eat it. Don’t bribe or threaten them either, as this harbours negativity. Children view parents as role models and they learn from their parents’ behaviour, so if you want to get youngsters to eat certain things, eat them yourself at the same time as your little ones. Avoid distractions at mealtimes, such as watching TV or having toys on the table, and instead, talk to each other and discuss the different dishes that you’re all eating.
Get children involved
Children love getting involved with things, so if you want to stamp out fussy eating habits, why not get them to help out at mealtimes? Whether it’s helping to wash or prepare fruit and vegetables, stir or mix food and ingredients, being a part of the preparation process will give them more incentive and interest to eat what they have made. Even better, why not get children to help with growing veggies from seed in the garden or in a few pots?
Make food fun
Prepare food in a fun and interesting way to get youngsters interested in what is on their plate. You could create fun shapes and patterns with fruit and vegetables, for example, or use a spiralizer as a novel way to serve vegetables as noodles or wiggly worms. Offer small chunks of food as finger food so your little one doesn’t feel overwhelmed; they’re more likely to try it this way. A blender is also a handy accessory to own if fussy eaters are a problem at home, and is ideal for whizzing up smooth vegetable pasta sauces. Keep trying different food items, and remember to stay positive!
Start things early
For as long as I can remember I have told my children they must try new foods before saying they don’t like it. My son isn’t keen on this rule but he does it anyway, if he likes something he hates to admit defeat and will shrug his shoulders if he likes it or is very vocal if he doesn’t.
Whereas my daughter my loves this rule. She is always pleasantly surprised with new foods.