How To Encourage Children Who Are Fussy Eaters
When you’ve got a fussy eater to contend with, it’s easy to get locked in a battle of wills, and it’s so easy to feel frustrated and powerless when your child simply refuses to eat certain foods. Picky or fussy eating is something most parents face at some point. It’s usually just a phase, but it can be worrying for parents.
In this post we will talk about what can cause fussy eating and give you lots of tips to help.
Most children at some stage in their life will go through a phase of fussy eating, whether it’s picking at their food, refusing to even sit down to their dinner or only eating certain things offered to them you are not alone. Around 90% of children go through at least one stage of fussy eating. Whilst for us mealtimes are a great opportunity have family time, hear about their day at school or just see their faces before they go back to technology. Feeding time isn’t always the same for our little ones. In fact mealtimes can cause unnecessary pressure on our children and they can even dread the dinner table so much it starts them off on a bad note before even seeing what’s for tea.
What is even worse is, you are trying to eat healthily, trying to lose weight etc.. you really need the whole family to eat what you are cooking. But little one wants turkey dinosaurs and beans! Fussy eaters need support so often cooking separate meals is a necessity no matter how inconvenient it is. The most important thing is keeping your children fed, full up and healthy. Pick your battles.. some parents are too focused on their little ones eating carrot sticks because they feel “mummy shame” for giving them a freezer meal! Who cares? The only person judging you is yourself.
Follow these tips to help your child develop better eating habits:
- Encourage your child to touch, smell and taste food
- Introduce your child to new foods at an easy age
- Lead by example and eat with them, most children like to copy their parents.
- Praise your child when they eat well
- Take your child shopping, let them choose some new foods to try
- Encourage your child to get involved in cooking with you
- Stay calm and positive, keep your frustrations to yourself
- Give smaller portions at first. If they finish, offer them more
- Grow your own vegetables and let your child help
- Learn where food comes from with your child
- Don’t force feed – your child may develop a negative association with a food
- Don’t bribe or pressure
- Don’t give children drinks or snacks close to mealtimes
- Turn off the television or any other distractions
- Keep offering. It can take as many as 10 times for a child to try a food and like it
Remember, we don’t all like every food. To make sure they are not missing out on important food groups, here are some alternatives you can give your child:
If your child refuses vegetables:
- Offer vegetable sticks as snacks
- Blend them up in soups and meals
- Mash with potatoes – carrots and parsnips work well
- Many children prefer fruit, so give an extra piece of fruit instead
- Hide vegetables in cookies or cakes
If your child refuses to drink milk:
- Add cheese to mashed potato or pasta dishes
- Add milk to mashed potato and sauces
- Offer yoghurt or cheese as a snack
- Try milk-based desserts like custard or rice pudding
If your child refuses meat:
My youngest is 4 and he is very picky about his meat. He will eat turkey dinosaurs (if you can call that meat) but offer him fresh turkey and he will screw his nose up. He thankfully loves ham and beef burgers so at least thats something. However he adores vegetables and would happily eat a plate of raw carrot and cucumber rather than chicken.
- Offer eggs – boiled, poached or scrambled!
- Use baked beans or try peas and lentils
- Serve meat with a sauce or gravy
- Try casseroles using pulses like lentils and chickpeas instead of meat
Recommended Cookbook for fussy eaters
With 120 healthy recipes covering everything from breakfasts to suppers to parties, Annabel gives tips and advice on improving your children’s diet and encouraging new tastes. She suggests way of sneaking hidden vegetables into familiar foods such as quesadillas and focaccia pizzas, and offers a healthy take on fast-food favourites like chicken nuggets with dips and sticky barbecue ribs.