Creating the Ultimate Pick Plate for Fussy Eaters
It’s time to plate up!
Oh being a parent – isn’t it fun! One day you’re sucking out snot (for real), the next you’re trying to reason with your toddler fussy eater, about why it’s not ok to go into meltdown mode for peeling a banana the “wrong way.”
At times it can feel like it’s an uphill battle, but you’re not alone - fussy eater behaviour is very common in toddlers. So if you find yourself referring to your child as ‘my fussy eater’ and not sure what fun feeding solutions work, then read on.
This comprehensive guide answers the most googled questions around picky eating behaviour, including what toddler plate sets you might need and how the Thomas Train Track plate set can come to the rescue, how to create pick plates for your little one to enjoy, and a useful fussy eater food list to keep handy.
What is a pick plate?
If you’re wondering what are picky eater plates, it’s simply a light kids’ meal made up of lots of different foods to pick at served on one kids' plate. Think of it as a mezze of foods. This might include carrot batons, cucumber slices, cheese squares, pitta bread, hummus and apples. Munchy Play kids’ plates are generously sized with high-sides, making them a great choice for picky eating meals .
Children learn by example, so feeding them the same meals as you (smaller portions), and eating together as a family will really help lay the foundation for healthy mealtime behaviours. Occasionally though, your child might just want to pick at their food, and serving up a pick plates of fun foods is a fun treat. Giving your child variety and control at mealtimes may encourage them to eat, but making mealtimes fun is the best way, for instance using a Thomas Train Plate.
Making mealtimes fun and enjoyable is the best way to bring fussy eaters to the table and keep them there.
The founder of Munchy Play kids’ plates said: “My fussy eater is the reason I designed our fun kids plates. Like many children, around the age of two my son lost interest in mealtimes – far too busy playing with toys and discovering the world around him. I tried everything, but until I got down to his level and saw the world from his eyes, nothing worked. When I observed him playing, I noticed how much fun he was having.
"Having to give this up to sit down and eat seemed less fun. He was also a huge Thomas the Tank Engine fan, so I used this as a tool to bring him to the table. It inspired me to make the Munchy Play Thomas Plate Set, which is helping families everywhere to this day. I always tell parents not to stress about poor eating and to look for fun feeding solutions to help. Put the emphasis on making mealtimes and enjoyable place, and the rest will fall into place.”
Finally, you might wonder why do toddlers have divided plates and can they help? Sometimes kids don’t like certain foods mixed together and compartmenting food makes it easier for them. However, you can just as easily achieve this by serving up a meal of picky items.
What does picky eating mean?
Picky eating, also known as fussy eating or selective eating, is considered an unwillingness to try foods (new and existing), as well as having a very strong food preference. By time a child reaches two years’ old, half of all parent’s report experiencing picky eating behaviours.
Reassuringly, this is quite normal according to the NHS, which says that toddler fussy eaters may “refuse of even taste new foods”. As a parent, it advises to look at what they eat holistically over the course of a week, rather than analysing it day by day. If they are active and gaining weight, plus if they seem well – then further intervention may not be needed.
So then, what causes fussy eating?
There can be a wide range of factors that influence picky eating behaviour, from personal experiences to selective tastes. Some kids are also more naturally sensitive to taste, texture and smells. There could be a variety of reasons for this, for instance late introduction to foods that are lumpy, a child feeling pressured to eat, a toddler exerting control over a situation, as well as early feeding difficulties. In most cases, however, picky eating behaviour is a phase that resolves over time, and is especially common in children between the ages of two and four years old.
What are good picky eater foods?
Here’s some examples of super healthy snacks and food ideas that even a picky eater will enjoy. It’s worth noting that research from the Child Feeding Guide shows that repeat exposure can make foods more familiar and therefore appealing to children, and may take anywhere between 10 to 20 times before acceptance.
Here’s some ideas for your fussy eater food list:
- Crepes or pancakes – keep them simple initially with honey, lemon juice and a light sprinkling of sugar, gradually adding fruits. Lots of parents on Instagram enjoy making pancakes in creative ways, which are small and tactile enough to pick up, as well as lots of fun!
Carrot and cucumber batons – great first foods for trying and for little hands to hold
- Everyone loves chicken nuggets, and homemade ones are a much healthier choice for your picky eater plates
- Cheese and broccoli fritters – so simply to make, so delicious to eat!
- Rainbow pizza – this looks pretty and is also loaded of vegetables making it the perfect choice for a toddler plate.
- Apple slices with peanut butter dip – the perfect toddler snack for picking up from nursery
- Fun shape sandwiches – be it dinosaurs or trains, this is always a hit on your dinner winner plate
- Egg – such a versatile choice, offer it boiled, scrambled or fried and see their response
- Mac and cheese – a staple in any diet, the key here is sneaking the occasional veg in, from sweetcorn to peas and broccoli.
How do I get my child to try new foods?
If you’re asking yourself ‘how do I stop picky eating behaviour’, here’s a few strategies that may help.
- Use snack time to introduce new foods, you may find they are more receptive as there’s less pressure
- Be a role model – children learn through watching those around them. Ergo, if you want your child to eat broccoli, you’ll need to as well.
- Here’s a sneaky one, but you can trying pairing new foods with foods they already like to make it more palatable
- Look for fun feeding solutions that make mealtimes more enjoyable, from child-friendly cutlery to the Munchy Play collection of track plates.
- Offer a varied and balanced diet. Research suggests that children offered more variety of food tastes and textures in early childhood will have a more varied diet later in life.
- Introduce food art! The good news is that you don’t have to be an artist when you’re making food art toddler meal ideas for picky eaters Uk. Get creative, have some fun and sneak in a couple of new foods for them to try.
Coping with a fussy eater toddler – five tips
Finally, we wanted to share five handy tips to help you through the fussy eating phase.
- Involve your child
Picky eating often coincides with toddlers finding their independence. Help your child to feel in control, by involving them in the preparation and process. For instance, get them to pick out the vegetables, to lay the table (have you notice they do this at nursery). Giving them some autonomy, choice and involvement can help get them on board. my fuss
- Make it fun
The best way to bring kids to the table and keep them there, is to make mealtimes fun. Munchy Play kids’ plates feature a built-in track for cars and trains – the perfect choice for a stress-free family meal. In a survey, 93% of parents said it improves dining with their toddler.
- Lead by example
Families that dine together, tend to have better eating habits, such as consuming more vegetables. But if you aren’t willing to eat a certain food yourself, then don’t expect your child to either! Rather than serving up food that they don’t want, ask your child which parts of the meal they want on their picky eater plate, or better still – get them to serve themselves on their favourite kids plate set.
- Big on taste, not size
Little kids especially like finger foods and using their hands to eat with. Let them experiment with lots of different tastes and textures. Rather than overwhelm their kids’ plate with a big portion, give them little bits of everything to try. You don’t need a separate fussy eater recipe.
- Respect their style
It’s never advisable to force foods, or bribe your child to eat certain foods. This just feeds into the cycle of power struggle, and that’s best avoided. Instead, serve smaller portions (see above pick plate ideas) that aren’t overwhelming to your child, allowing them the chance to ask for more if they so wish.
Information contained in this feature does not constitute medical advice. If you have any concerns about your picky eater, please seek professional medical support from a GP.
If you have a fussy eater toddler or want to learn more about Munchy Play and the new Thomas & Friends ™ Train Track Plate collection, please visit: www.munchyplay.com or follow @munchyplay on social media.