Is your child a fussy eater?
According to some experts, a child is considered a fussy eater if they’re unwilling to try new foods at least half of the time.1 They may also only like certain foods, lose interest in food altogether, love something one day, refuse it the next, become sensitive about mixing certain foods or particular about how their food should be served. Frustratingly, their likes and dislikes can often change from day to day. If it sounds like you have a fussy eater in your household, you’re certainly not alone. Eight out of ten Australian parents are concerned about their child’s eating habits and one third of mums and dads worry that their child is'nt eating enough.1 It’s natural to worry and assume something is wrong if your child refuses to eat healthy foods or loses interest in food altogether. It may be a sign that they’re getting sick and need to rest, but often it’s just a normal stage that many kids go through and there are a number of plausible reasons for this:
  • They’re asserting their independence – You may have noticed that your young child is becoming less co‐operative in other areas too such as putting on their shoes or getting dressed.
  • They have a changeable appetite – Kids will have growth spurts and their activity levels may vary from day to day, which can result in a large appetite for a while followed by periods of fussy eating.2 They might also be filling up on milk or juices during the day so their appetite is reduced at mealtimes.2
  • They might be too tired to eat.2
  • They are modelling their behaviour on their parents or possibly other family members. Research indicates that while 27% of toddlers are considered to be fussy eaters, 22% of their parents admit to being fussy too.1
  • You may have delayed giving your child "lumpy" foods. According to researchers in England, babies who were not given semi‐solid food until 10 months or older, were more likely to be sensitive to textures and prefer firm foods or pureed foods only.1
Most kids will grow out of fussy eating and start accepting a wider range of foods eventually, but some good advice can certainly help in the meantime. To foster an adventurous eater, see "10 tips for picky eaters".