Toddler, Child
11th Aug 2020

As a parent, you’re likely familiar with the fact that a diet packed full of fresh produce, lean proteins, whole grains and dairy products (or their alternatives) is important for supporting your child to grow, learn and explore.

In the early months, feeding your little one is relatively straightforward, just breastmilk, formula or a combination of both. But, as you begin to introduce solid foods, you may find it becomes harder to satisfy your child’s ever-changing food preferences.

It’s normal for children to go through periods of fussy eating. In fact, did you know it may take 12 tries before your child likes a particular food?

So, what can be done about overcoming your little one’s fussy phase? Read on to discover four handy tips that may help you to support their healthy, balanced diet during times of pickiness.

Keep it Interesting

Just like adults, children may grow tired of eating the same meals week-in and week-out. Additionally, a varied diet is important for ensuring your child gets adequate amounts of all the essential nutrients they need.

Try to refrain from feeding your little one the same cereal, sandwich and snacks every day, as this may lead them to grow tired of these foods and reject them in the future, or become wary of trying anything outside of their regular routine.

Instead, you may find it useful to use a meal-planning chart to map out a schedule of both familiar and new food combinations. If your child is old enough, you could also get them involved!

For every meal or snack, give your little one two or three options to choose between.

For example, when deciding on a fruit snack, give them a banana, an apple, or grapes to choose between. This can help give them a sense of control, without overwhelming them with infinite choices.

Don't Overthink It

After a long day, the last thing you want to do is handle a fussy eater’s mealtime meltdown.

If your child starts kicking up a fuss at the dinner table, it’s important to resist the urgent to get roped into their meltdown. As tempting as it can be, don’t try to play mind games, bribe, or beg your child to eat something they don’t want to eat.

Not only may this encourage them to continue their antics in future, but it can also discredit your final say about what gets served up.

Instead, serve meals that include foods that they are comfortable with alongside new ingredients you’d like them to try. Support them to try their food and emphasis your praise when they follow through.

Make Mealtime Fun

Let’s face it, we all eat with our eyes to some extent! The same goes for your little one, so how you present their food may have a big impact on the likelihood of them eventually eating it.

If your child is resistant at mealtimes, try combining food with fun.

You could cut their sandwiches into interesting shapes, make a face on their plate out of vegetables, or even introduce plastic crockery with their favourite characters on it.

If they’re old enough, another way to make food fun is to involve your child in the cooking process. Whether it’s weighing out ingredients or mixing things in a bowl, any way you can get your little one to associate healthy eating with excitement is a step in the right direction.

Build the Best Environment

A calm environment is key when it comes to encouraging your child to bid their fussy eating phase adieu.

If your little one has a short attention span, they might not be interested in the food in front of them if the dining environment is full exciting distractions.

Try turning the TV off during dinner and sitting at the table with the whole family. Not only will this support your child to focus on the task at hand (eating!), it may also encourage conversation and improve their language skills.

Plus, by eating the same meal as your little one you’re leading by example and modelling positive eating behaviours.

What's Next?