As babies grow into toddlers and then into young children, many eating habits can be formed, fussy eating can come about even if the child had enjoyed that food before.
No matter how frustrating it can be when a child is a fussy eater, the most important thing to do is to remain calm and continue introducing them to as many foods as possible.
Please find below some tips on how to deal with fussy eaters.
Give rewards (that aren’t food)
After a child has tried a new food, you could offer a reward that is not food, such as a sticker, half-an hour playing in the park or some playtime with a friend.
These are great ways to treat younger children after they have tried new food, encouraging them to continue to try new foods and enjoy them.
Make food look appetising
We eat with our eyes, so try to make food look nice before we eat it. Without using too many garnishes (as this may be off putting for the child) serve the food neatly alongside other food they know and like and ensure that the portion size is correct.
If the portion size is too large this could overwhelm the child and not allow them to feel comfortable to try it.
Change how a food is served
Changing how food or a meal is served may make it more appealing. For example, a child might not like cooked carrots but enjoy raw grated carrots, or a child may become used to always being asked to try plain peas served next to fish, but they may enjoy peas if they were served in a shepherd’s pie.
If a child’s friends, family, parents, brothers and/or sisters are eating a wide variety of different foods, they will be more likely to try food. Many children copy their friends and family members, so providing a healthy environment where others are eating a wide variety of food allows the child to think about doing the same as well.
Get children involved with cooking
When children can see exactly what is going into their food they will be more inclined to try the food as they know each individual ingredient that is in it and they have a greater understanding about what they are about to consume.
Make meal times exciting
Make mealtimes enjoyable and not just about eating.
Have fun themes surrounding children when they eat, both in the school dining room and at home. This allows the child to talk about other subjects rather than just what they are eating.
Even if there is not a theme at home, just talking about the child’s favourite activity may naturally take the focus away from trying the food which may help with them trying new foods without realising.