3 - 5yrs Clinic
Dealing with fussy eaters
The tag ‘fussy eater’ can be attached to a child who in an extreme ‘only eats food that’s white or red’, or it can mean someone who simply doesn’t like brussels sprouts. But it will depend very much on your own eating habits whether or not you can encourage a more balanced diet in your child.
Five tips for encouraging a fussy eater
• Set a good example
If mum and dad are sitting at the table with a different meal to their children, how can the little ones be expected to get stuck in? Try to eat together as a family as often through the week as possible, showing your child that food is something to be enjoyed not endured. And if mummy or daddy have a ‘no carrots’ policy, make sure this isn’t something your child sees, or better still, get over your fear of carrots and start eating them!
• Make food fun
Try to make good food look great rather than just slopping it onto the plate. Turn a homemade pizza into a funny foodie face and sneak on some courgette slices for eyes and red pepper lips, or find new pasta shapes that will help take your child’s mind off the veggie sauce that’s sitting on top of it.
• Get your child onside
Even young children can help with the safer aspects of preparing a meal – whisking, stirring, or chopping softer ingredients with a child’s knife. If your child feels he is ‘taking ownership’ of a certain dish it can really encourage him to try it for himself. See also Cooking with your child.
• Invite a friend for tea
Often a child will be more willing to give new or previously rejected foods a go if they see a friend of theirs tucking in. Have a few friends around for tea – picking the ones who you know have healthy appetites and an enthusiasm for food!
• Skip the snacks
It’s understandable that we don’t like to see our children go hungry, and if they tend to eat healthy snacks like raisins and fruit through the day we might allow these if we know that they didn’t eat enough at the last mealtime. However, if your child comes to the table half-full already, there is less desire to finish a plate of food. Try not to harp on about boring healthy food being the price your child has to pay for getting a treat or another snack later, but do remind your child that eating well at mealtimes is going to give him the energy he needs to enjoy himself when he’s having fun afterwards.
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