While it’s considered normal for kids to go through periods of fussy eating, it doesn’t make it any less frustrating for parents. However, there are some tried and tested strategies that may help your child become a more adventurous eater. Some of the Cenovis Mums have shared what they do and what they try to steer clear of below.
What to do
- Offer healthy new foods among the foods your fussy eater already likes. Encourage them to smell, touch, lick or taste the new food. Some parents have success with encouraging kids to take just one bite of everything on their plate and then if they don’t like it, they don’t have to finish it.
- Casually but regularly offer new kinds of foods. Many kids need to be exposed to a new food as many as 10‐15 times before they feel confident to try it.
- Eat a range of healthy foods yourself. Kids learn many of their behaviours from their parents.
- Involve them in the preparation process. Get kids to help you pick out recipes, choose fruit and veggies at the supermarket and help out in the kitchen. If they play a part in the meal preparation, they’ll be more likely to taste their ‘creation’.
- Make food appealing. You could arrange food into shapes or offer foods on different plates and let them pick and choose.
- Turn off the TV and sit together as a family. If a mealtime is enjoyable, kids will want to repeat it.
- Serve child‐sized meals. Kids’ stomachs are much smaller than an adult’s and they might feel overwhelmed with a large plate of food in front of them.
What NOT to do
- Force, nag or yell. Forcing a child to eat can often make the situation worse and won’t encourage healthy eating habits in the long run.
- Use lollies, chocolate or dessert as bribes. They may attach negative connotations to healthy foods and take advantage of you.
- Prepare special meals for your fussy eater. It’s best to offer meals that the rest of the family are having while ensuring there’s something they like or are familiar with on their plate.
- Show disgust or disinterest when trying new foods yourself.
- Overdo milk or sweet drinks during the day.1 These may be filling and reduce your kids appetite at mealtimes which doesn’t help with an already fussy eater.
- Serve dinner too late. Younger kids may simply be too tired to eat.1