10 Tips for Fussy Eaters

1. Focus on the atmosphere during meal time to ensure it is happy and fun.

Routine is very important for young children, so prioritise meal times together throughout the day. Try to avoid rushing; for example, the “Quick! Finish your breakfast; we’ve got to go!” type scenario.

2. Set a good example!

Children observe their parents. So, be sure to serve nutritious foods that you like, so that your child can see you enjoying what you are asking them to eat.

3. Avoid putting pressure on your child to eat.

Young children under the age of 2 years will not starve themselves. If they are not hungry, do not force them to eat. In fact, expect food to be left on the plate!
A child’s stomach is only the size of their clenched fist, so offering foods regularly (5-6 times a day) is likely to work better than bigger amounts at main meals.

4. Expect mess!

Young children need to explore food using their senses – looking, touching, smelling, tasting. It helps them accept food, especially when they are trying something new. Remember, adults like to investigate new foods using their senses too, it just looks a little different.

5.Try and try again.

Do not think “they don’t like it” if your child refuses a food once or twice. It is a good idea to continue putting the food on their plate for them to try (even if they say they don’t want it). Children need to see and taste new foods several times before they become familiar with and accept it. It is recommended to offer any one food 10 times before moving on. Spread this over a few weeks though and try preparing the food in various ways.

6. Consider textures rather than taste.

Some children may eat a particular food when it has been prepared one way compared to another. For example, pureed or cooked carrot, rather than sliced or raw. Though this may be their preference to start with, you can gradually begin to change the way you prepare the food to line up with your normal cooking style.
If you are having problems with a particular food, try a different food within the same food group (with similar nutrients).
For example:
– A2 yoghurt instead of A2 milk
– Raw or grated vegetables instead of cooked vegetables
– Lamb instead of beef, or fish instead of chicken
– Rice cake instead of bread

7. Avoid using food as a reward.

This is important to help your child develop a healthy relationship with food.

8. Encourage/praise your child in at least one thing every meal.

For example, “well done for chewing your meat”; “good eating of your vegetables”; “you did really well to eat your peas”.

9. Let your child serve themselves sometimes.

Children as young at 2 years can do this. They may pile the food on their plate, or take half a spoonful. Let them decide. If there is not much on their plate, they will ask for more when they want some. Let them feel in control of what is on their plate.

10. Involve your child in cooking and meal preparation.

Let them taste ingredients throughout the cooking process (being mindful about food safety, avoiding consumption of raw meats/eggs and other unsafe foods).
Invite them to help with meal time activities, such as getting the cutlery and plates, hot mats and servers to set the table, and telling everyone “dinner is ready”.

Below are some recipes you might like to try with the kids. They are simple, nutritious and delicious!