In my experience no parent is safe from the fussy/picking eaters stage. It usually starts around the age of 18months, but every child is different.
Today you can have a little one who eats absolutely everything that’s put in front of them, then tomorrow they begin to refuse foods they usually love. This is completely normal. You may also find that when you previously introduced new foods, your little one would at least try it, but now they flat out refuse to entertain anything new. Again, this is completely normal.
There are several reasons why this happens. I’m not qualified to diagnose your little one, I can only offer advice that I have gathered from experts and that has worked for me.
So, what to do if your little one becomes a fussy/picky eater? Firstly, it’s important to understand if it is just fussy/picking eating or if it’s more than that. If you are concerned make sure you seek some professional support. Our nutritionists Happy Tums run workshops for weaning and fussy eating and offer ongoing support, so check them out if you need to.
Ask yourself, are they a good weight, full of energy and happy enough? Yes? Then there probably isn’t anything to worry about, so try out these 10 tips.
1. Offer a wide variety of foods and flavours from early on. Serving the same foods regularly will make it harder to introduce new foods.
2. Do not offer an alternative. I can’t stress this enough. I know it can be tough if your little one isn’t eating. You worry they’ll go hungry or won’t sleep. They won’t and they will. If you offer an alternative meal, they start to learn that there will always be another option.
3. Serve new foods or foods they’ve begun to reject regularly as part of their meal. Try not to draw attention or make comments about the foods. Removing the pressure to eat, really makes a difference.
4. Family style meal times. I love family style meals. Big plates of food piled on the table and everyone helps themselves to what they want. I often use this technique with Logan and Kaia. Again, remove the pressure, just list the foods available and ask if they’d like to try them. If they refuse, that’s ok, say “ok maybe next time” and move on.
5. Motivational rewards. Try not to rely on bribes “if you eat X, I’ll give you Y”. Sticker charts can work really well for older children.
6. Hide your frustration. They’re less likely to make a fuss if they’re not getting a reaction.
7. Get them involved. By helping you prepare the meal they are more likely to want to eat it. Teach them about ingredients and where they come from.
8. Make foods fun and appealing. I’m no food artist, but cutting veg into fun shapes is quite easy and can really get little ones excited to try them.
9. Consider their snack/milk schedule. Sometimes simply dropping a snack/milk or moving it further away from a meal time can help. If they’re filling up on other things, they’re less likely to want to eat their dinner.
10. Avoid processed snacks. These are just empty calories. Try fruit, veggies, cheese, nuts & nut butters and crackers, they have more nutritional value. So if your little one isn’t eating their main meals, you know they’re getting nutrients from their snacks.
Hopefully these tips will help. Unfortunately, there’s no quick fix, it can take some time. Remember you are not alone and other parents are probably going through this too. Why not have a chat with your tribe and share experiences, you’ll probably get some more useful tips.
Don’t forget, if you’re worried, go to see a specialist.
If you need any recipe ideas, head over to the recipe section of the blog. You might find something there that you can try.
Have a delicious day x