Tips and tricks

Has dinner time become a nightmare at your house? Unfortunately, fussy eating among children is a very common issue that many families deal with. Let’s explore some reasons your child may be a fussy eater and some tips to help overcome their aversion to certain foods.

Why is my child a fussy eater?

While it’s comforting to know that most children go through a fussy eating phase, it can be extremely exhausting for parents. There are a number of reasons that children are fussy eaters including:

  • A developmental phase: Closely aligned with their cognitive development and usually peaking around two years of age
  • Genetics: Some research suggests fussy eating is an inborn trait
  • Heightened sensory sensitivity: Children who become easily overwhelmed by the look, smell, taste or texture of food.

How to overcome fussy eating?

Unfortunately, there is no quick fix or one size fits all approach to overcoming fussy eating. As hard as it may be to deal with, the best approach is patience.

  • Don’t pressure them

Pressuring children to eat has many potential consequences and set backs.¬†It’s important to consistently expose children to foods without pressuring them to eat. The more they are exposed and familiar with certain foods, the more likely they are to accept and try them. When they do try new foods it’s important to reward them for their effort.

  • Take them shopping

Some parents suggest that grocery shopping with the kids can help encourage them to try new foods. Next time you’re doing the groceries as your kids to each pick a new fruit, vegetable or snack they would like to try.

  • Use creativity¬†

Get creative with the names and look of foods your kids might be fussy on. For example, broccoli can become ‘little trees’, and carrots ‘bunny snacks’. You can also mix up the way you present dinner, making the food into a smiley face to avoid any negative connotations they may have developed about the way foods look.

  • Role Model

Children learn best through modelling behaviour of their peers and adults. Role model healthy habits by enjoying fruits and vegetables you would like them to eat too.

  • Sensory play

Kids also learn well through play. Let them look at the foods closely, then touch and play with them before deciding whether to eat them or not. Discovering the texture of foods helps make them become more familiar to them.

Most children who are fussy eaters are simply going through a phase and are still receiving enough nutritional content from their diets. However, if you are concerned that your child is losing weight, not playing or being as active as usual, or is only eating a very small range of foods, it may be worth visiting your GP for guidance.