If your child or toddler is a fussy eater, we have just the remedy! No need to worry about your child’s nutrition, or give into unhealthy foods as a last resort. Read on to find out what the experts recommend for fussy eaters.
First: What to remember
Think back to when you were a kid. Were you a fussy eater too? If you’ve answered no to this question, you may need to think again! Studies conducted by the University College of London showed that a reluctance to trying new foods is 78% inherited and only 22% environmental. That said, behaviour and habits can change your child’s fussy eating.
Another thing to keep in mind is that if your child is refusing a meal, they are more likely doing so to assert their rights, rather than because they genuinely hate the food. Children and toddlers generally won’t starve themselves, so missing a meal here or there won’t do too much harm. Experts advise it’s better to miss the odd meal than to develop unhealthy eating habits, like giving in feeding your child junk food.
Do you give up on trying to feed your child a new food after 2 or 3 attempts? Studied have shown that, while most parents tend to give up quickly, children will increase their taste for, and consumption of, a new food after being asked to try it ten or more times. Try feeding your child the new food many times - don’t give up! Ask your child to taste the new food every day for two weeks.
Studies on fussy eaters have also shown that pairing strange new foods with old favourites increases a child’s likelihood to eat and enjoy that new food. For example, try serving up a familiar dish with a small serving of a new additional vegetable. This reduces the likelihood your child will reject, or even notice, the new food. Also, small servings of new foods tends to help, because your child won’t be overwhelmed by the sight of a huge quantity of new food they have to eat.
Children, especially toddlers, love to play with their food. This helps them to enjoy food as well as get used to the flavours and textures. Allowing your children to play with the new food can help them enjoy it and finish eating it. Also, presenting new food in fun ways increases the attractiveness of the food. Children love to eat food that is presented in funny and interesting ways, cut into fun shapes or brightly coloured. Even stickers on sandwich wrappings can increase the attractiveness and enjoyment of a particular food.
Try to avoid giving in to your child’s rejection of new foods and demands for old favourites. If you give in, your child learns that they can get what they want if they act up. Be gentle, but firm, and tell them they need to, “Eat this or nothing”.