Many children are fussy eaters. Fussy eating is normal, but it can be hard to handle. Most of the time fussy eating isn’t about food – it’s often about children wanting to be independent. Here are some ideas that might help if you have fussy eaters in the family.
About fussy eating and fussy eaters:
It’s normal for children to be fussy eaters – that is, to not like the shape, colour or texture of particular foods. It’s also normal for children to like something one day but dislike it the next, to refuse new foods, and to eat more or less from day to day. This all happens because fussy eating is part of children’s development. It’s a way of exploring their environment and asserting their independence. And it’s also because their appetites go up and down depending on how much they’re growing and how active they are. The good news is that children are likely to get less fussy as they get older. One day your child will probably eat and enjoy a whole range of different foods.
How to handle fussy eaters: make mealtimes pleasant: Our child’s
willingness to try food will depend partly on the eating environment.
Pleasant, low-stress mealtimes can help. Here are some tips:
- Make mealtimes happy, regular and social occasions. Try not to worry about spilled drinks or food on the floor.
- Have realistic expectations – for example, you can start by asking your child to lick a piece of food, and work up to trying a mouthful over time. And praise your child for any small effort to try a new food.
- Never force your child to try a food. He’ll have lots of other opportunities to try new foods.
- If your child is fussing about food, ignore it as much as you can. Giving fussy eating lots of attention can sometimes encourage children to keep behaving this way.
- make healthy foods fun – for example, cut sandwiches into interesting shapes, let your child be involved in making the food.
Sometimes toddlers are too distracted to sit at the family table for a meal. If this sounds like your child, try having quiet time before meals so she can calm down before eating. Even the ritual of hand-washing can help.
Giving fussy eaters independence with food: It can be a good idea to support your child’s need for independence when it comes to food. It’s up to you to provide healthy food options for your child. And it’s up to your child to decide how much he’ll eat! You could also try letting your child make choices within a range of healthy foods. Just limit the options to two or three things, so your child doesn’t get too confused or overwhelmed to eat.
Fussy eating facts: These facts can help you understand why children sometimes fuss about their food:
- Children’s appetites are affected by their growth cycles. Even babies have changing appetites. At 1-6 years, it’s common for children to be really hungry one day and picky the next.
- Children have different taste preferences from grown-ups.
- Life is too exciting for children sometimes, and they’re too busy exploring the world around them to spend time eating.
- Children learn by testing the boundaries of acceptable behaviour. They can be very strong willed when it comes to making decisions about food (to eat or not to eat, and what to eat). It’s all part of their social, intellectual and emotional development.
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Source: Raising Children’s Network (2018, October 15). Fussy Eating. Retrieved from http://raisingchildren.net.au/articles/fussy_eating.html