Children's Nutrition: Tips for Managing Fussy Eaters

Updated: Jun 9, 2020

Don’t worry, It is common for young children to go through phases of being “fussy eaters”. Don’t give up and try these strategies:

  • If your child is not hungry, don’t force a meal or snack, as your child might associate mealtime with anxiety and frustration.

  • Establish and stick to a routine, serving meals and snacks at about the same time.

  • Young children often touch or smell new foods, and might even put tiny amounts in their mouths and then take them back out again. A child may need to see a food up to ten times before they accept it before he or she takes the first bite!

  • Make it fun! Serve vegetables, such as broccoli, green beans with a favourite dip or sauce. Use your and your child’s imaginations, for example carrot sticks can make great cars or design and develop other images with vegetables.

  • Be creative by adding vegetables, such as broccoli or capsicum to spaghetti sauce, top cereal with fruit slices, or mix grated zucchini and carrots into casseroles and soups.

  • Allow your child to help you select fruit, vegetables and other healthy foods when shopping. Also, at home encourage your child to help you prepare meals, set the table, and other meal related activities.

  • Minimise distractions. Turn off the television and any other electronic devices during meal times, as this will help your child focus on eating.

  • Don’t offer dessert as a reward as this could send the message to your child that dessert is the best food, which might increase your child’s desire for sweets. You could select one or two nights a week to offer dessert and skip dessert the rest of the week. Or redefine dessert as fruit, yoghurt or other healthy choices.

  • Don’t prepare a separate meal for your child after he or she rejects the original meal as this might promote fussy eating. Encourage your child to stay at the table for the entire mealtime, even if she or he does not eat. Keep serving your child healthy choices until they become familiar and preferred.

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