The fear that your child may be a fussy eater can cause a lot of concern to some parents and don’t feel you are alone. Eight out of 10 Australian parents are concerned about their child’s eating habits. It’s important not to forget that it is very normal for children to like a food one day but dislike it the next, to refuse foods or even eat more one day or much less the next. Experts often say that a child may need to try a single food up to 10 times before they will accept it. Also fear not, children who are fussy eaters do not necessarily grow up to be fussy eaters as adults. In fact, it can be a normal part of your child’s development and can occur anytime up until the age of six years old.
Create a happy sociable mealtime
A key way in which children learn is to closely follow the actions of their parents and caregivers. If you show dislike for a certain type of food, there is some chance that they will too, equally young children are more likely to give a food a go if you are enjoying it. Regularly eating together around a meal table and, as soon as your child is old enough, sharing the same foods, can help create a more positive food environment. This can be tricky, but research has shown that even if it is just three or more times a week, it can have a positive outcome on health, family relationships and social development. Conversely, if life is too exciting your child may not want to spend the time eating. So, it’s important to make meal time a happy place, if it becomes stressful the child will pick up on this and may not enjoy it.
Get your little ones involved
Providing a variety of nutritious foods and introducing as many foods as possible at an early age, can help ensure children consume something from each of the different food groups. And if they are not liking a certain food, encourage them to describe the taste or texture and what they don’t like about it. Whole Kids is also an advocate for getting your children to help out with the cooking. Most children will enjoy being included in simple tasks such as squeezing fresh orange juice, or cracking eggs. Even asking for help setting the table will help your child feel involved. Such activities, or even being asked what they would like for lunch or dinner can help stimulate a child’s appetite.
Have healthy nutritious snacks easily available
It’s not just about introducing healthy foods at meal times, it’s also useful to have easily accessible nutritious snacks. This will help you offer these first ahead of junk food. A few ideas are to have a fruit bowl accessible to older kids or veggie sticks readily chopped up in the fridge.
And get them interested through learning and growing
Another way to get your child interested in food is to help them understand where it comes from by teaching them about plants, farming and fishing, as well as taking them to the supermarket to help make choices for the week. Even growing a few veggies or herbs at home can help them understand where different foods come from.
Some great tips for the mealtime can be found here: https://www.wholekids.com.au/family+meal+times
Other good resources include:
About the Author
Diana Austen works for Whole Kids as a Nutrition Advisor. With a Master’s degree in nutrition, she has over six years’ experience working with a range of companies on innovation, strategic insight and regulatory and scientific affairs. Fascinated by the nutritional requirements of infants and young children she focuses specifically on products for this age group.