Fussy eating food habits in children

It’s not unusual for kids to be fussy eaters. In fact it is estimated that nearly half of all children go through a fussy eating stage and even 22% of parents admit to being picky too.1 There are all kinds of fussy eaters. Those who:

  • Refuse to try new foods
  • Only eat certain foods such as milk or bread
  • Love food one day and dislike it the next
  • Are sensitive about mixing particular foods together
  • Are particular with how their food is served; for example, only eating bread with the crusts off

Why do children develop fussy eating habits?

While you may get a little disheartened and wonder if your cooking is the reason behind their fussiness, remember that fussy eating isn’t always about the food itself. While some kids are sensitive to certain tastes and textures, others develop fussy eating habits because:

  • They have a natural aversion to bitter or sour foods and therefore many fruits and veggies. This is believed to stem from the caveman days when rejecting sour and bitter food was a survival mechanism to avoid munching on poisonous plants and berries.2
  • Their appetite and hunger can fluctuate from day to day. Young children have changeable appetites due to growth spurts and varying activity levels during the day, which can result in a large appetite for a while followed by periods of picky eating.3
  • They want to assert their independence by using, or refusing food, which is a part of normal development in toddlers.4
  • Eating food is far less important than all the other exciting things they could be doing.
  • They may model their parents’ fussy eating habits.

If you have a child in your household with fussy eating habits, there are practical ways to avoid mealtime battles and ensure they get everything they need to grow and develop. Find out more about with our top ten tips for a fussy eater.