My child is a fussy eater! What do I do?
Updated: Oct 4, 2021
Are you stressed over the sense of helplessness or frustration when your child does not eat properly during mealtime? Well, you’re not alone.
Fussy eating is a common behaviour throughout childhood, but can quickly escalate into a serious problem when kids are undernourished or eating inadequately to the point that they do not get the necessary nutrients.
They can be seen thoroughly examining the food they are served, eating only a few favourite foods, refusing foods that are unfamiliar and even eating very slowly at the dinner table. Some may even flatly reject eating familiar food that they dislike.
Such behaviour can be caused by several reasons. Some toddlers naturally have a heightened sensitivity to taste, smell and texture, which makes them taste flavours more intensely than most people. Others become fussy eaters by modelling their parents’ bad habit.
It also appears that some children are reluctant to try food that is new. They do so because they often seek similarity and consistency in the types of food they consume as it helps them to feel safe and secure.
Whatever the reason, establishing healthy eating patterns should be a priority to avoid future health problems such as obesity and eating disorders. It is also important for the child to break bad habit as soon as possible. Otherwise, avoidance will be ingrained in his or her way of life later in life.
In this article, we will show you various strategies you can adopt to help your child accept a wider range of food and be more willing to try new food.
Ways to Encourage a Fussy Eater to Eat
Be a Good Role Model
As you will see, the phrase “monkey see, monkey do” shows that children often learn and imitate behaviours by observing and listening to others. In this way, children sometimes learn things that their parents don’t mean to teach them.
If you are a parent that restricts yourself to a narrow range of food, it is likely that your child will notice your behaviour and mimic it. This will in turn result in your child being limited to only those foods you prefer, which can cause them to fall short of the essential nutrients needed for proper growth and development.
Therefore, parents should be good role model by demonstrating good eating habits. If your child sees you enjoying a wide variety of food, it inspires them to give it a go themselves.
Stop Bribing Them
Well, some may recommend parents to incentivise children to get them to try new food.
However, avoid bribing your child using lollipops, chocolates, biscuits and desserts. Bribing them will only make them feel that those snacks offered as rewards are better than the meal you offer, making refusal more likely. Negotiating with children can also result in a huge power struggle in the near future.
Get Them Involved In Grocery Shopping and Food Preparation
Bring your child along when you go grocery shopping. The local supermarket is an excellent place to introduce your child to different kinds of fruits, vegetables, grains, protein foods, and dairy available.
Once you are done with your grocery shopping, get them involved in the food preparation. Kids simply adore cooking tasks that are well within their capabilities! For instance, you can get them to whisk the egg or to add edible garnishes and decorations to the food.
This helps to stimulate their appetite and increase the likelihood of them trying what they prepared themselves.
Stick To The Allocated Meal Schedule
You can set designated times for breakfast, lunch, afternoon, snack and dinner and stick to the allocated meal schedule. By doing so, it keeps the children excited as they anticipate their mealtime.
Be sure to set a timer that is visible to both you and the child, so that they know exactly when the mealtime is over. This helps to prevent your child from staying at the table for ages and taking forever to eat.
Make food fun and appealing
Children can be very stubborn when it comes to their preferences for their food. To combat this, make food looks irresistible by arranging it in eye-catching, creative ways.
A change in the presentation of food can make all the difference, without going to unnecessary lengths.
There are tons of recipes out there for you to try with your kid! Click here to check out how to get kids to eat more vegetables.
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