At least at some point in your child’s early years they will no doubt go through a ‘fussy’ stage when it comes to food. You may have a baby that eats anything and everything, who might suddenly become a fussy four year old, or a baby who won’t eat much at all, who will turn round and try everything that is put on their plate when they turn three.
Children’s diet, or lack of in some cases, is a cause of anxiety and worry for a lot of parents, and we have all heard stories of friend’s children eating a plate full of vegetables every single night while your child struggles to eat a chicken nugget. Mealtimes can be tough and frustrating, but we wanted to give you a few top tips we have found help when it comes to dealing with a fussy eater…
The number one tip we can offer is to keep calm. Firstly dealing with a fussy eater can mean that mealtimes are stressful and hard, but try and keep calm, as your child will notice and pick up on your mood. Secondly your child won’t starve or get poorly if they skip a meal. So even though it is hard, try to relax.
Make mealtimes a fun occasion
Even though it can be stressful, try and make mealtimes a fun and happy time. Talk to your child and focus your attention on them completely- chat about your day, what you are up to that week, or anything else, just don’t make the subject about food. If you can, try and eat with your child and make it a sociable event, although of course this isnt’ always possible. If you can stay and sit at the table anyway, don’t wander about or clean up as it will focus your child’s attention back to their plate.
Don’t get cross or force your child to eat
If your child is refusing to eat anything, then this can make for an incredibly stressful experience, but try not to get cross, frustrated or force your child to eat. This will only make them associate meal times and food with stress and worry. Just try to remain calm.
Make small portions
It can be incredibly daunting to be presented with a huge portion of food, so try to make small portions for your child. Don’t overload them with options, instead put two or three choices on their plate.
Make dinner a game
Children love anything to be made into a game. Why not give points or have some sort of reward chart for trying new food? At the end if they get a certain amount of points they could be rewarded with a small prize, whether that is a nice dessert or small toy.
Keep mealtimes short
Don’t make your child sit at the table until he or she has eaten something. That is no good for anyone. If they decide they don’t want to eat, try reasoning with them, but if not then just let them get down from the table after everyone else has finished. Making them sit for hours is no good for anyone.