If you’re one of the many parents (nearly half to be precise) that identifies their pre-schooler as a ‘fussy eater’ don’t despair, you’re not alone! As many as a third of children around the age of two could be described as fussy eaters.
If you’re wondering what you can do, here’s some helpful tips compiled from expert opinion...
DON’T: Give in to them whenever they want to eat
DO: Stick to a routine
Remember who’s boss! Stick to routine with three meals a day and healthy snacks in between. Try and keep some familiarity with where they eat, bringing toys to give them comfort, to make them feel secure.
DON’T: Worry about toys being a distraction
DO: Let them bring toys to mealtimes if it brings them comfort
From roughly 18 months to four years' old children want to explore the world around them. This doesn't always bode well for mealtimes. So, if using their favourite toy gives you even five more minutes' at the dinner table, then it's no bad thing.
DON’T SAY: ‘You’re not getting any dessert if you don’t eat your dinner’
DO SAY: ‘Well done, and when you’ve finished that, there’s another treat in store’
By suggesting that dessert is a reward and that eating meals is a ‘chore’ gives out the wrong message. It’s better to position it as a ‘journey’ – so eating the meal will get you to the yummy dessert.
DON’T: Go mad if they get messy!
DO: Encourage them to feed themselves
Playing with food has been found to help some children more receptive to mealtimes. Let them get messy with finger foods such as breadsticks and hummus, small sausages and pieces of fruit to enjoy.
DON’T SAY: ‘You’re such a fussy eater”
DO SAY: ‘Daddy went to a lot of trouble to make this dish just for you:
By confirming that your child is a fussy eater it almost gives them carte blanche to turn food down. Don’t give them any excuses!
DON’T: Worry if they only eat a few foods
DO: Centre meals around the foods they love
If you’re child loves cheese and beans, then try different combinations of these – cheese on toast, bean and sausage pasta, cheese and beans in jacket potatoes for instance. And don’t worry about foods they reject, these can always be reintroduced at a later stage.
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