Where to start with fussy eaters?
My son has always been an amazing eater, so when my daughter was not, I didn’t really know what to do. Having a child that is a fussy eater can create anxiety and frustration for both parents and children. Do you have a fussy eater too? Is it effecting your relationships? Your anxiety? Don’t worry, we have just the game plan for you.
Nutrition is our daily fuel. We need it to give us energy, repair the cells and help our children grow and develop. As much as we want them to fussy eaters are most likely not going to ask for a leafy salad or a green smoothies. So, what should we do to make sure they receive all their nutritional needs?
According to Shara Wagowski (RD) picky eating could sometimes tell us that there may be an underlying condition. She encourages parents to see a professional to rule out anything medically that may be affecting the child.
Gretchen Flanagan a paediatric registered dietitian (link) says the plate method is great place to start. You can do this by dividing the toddler’s plate in 4. In one quarter you would place fruit, one quarter vegetables, one quarter grains the last quarter would be protein. She says that fats should be used in the preparation of the foods. Gretchen says that most toddlers eat when they are hungry and stop when they are full (Something most adults struggle with) and that we shouldn’t worry too much if they have a day that they are not too hungry or a day that they want more.
I have spoken about portion sizes before and really love using the hand method(Check more about that that here) method, but you could also use one tablespoon per food item per year of age.
A book that really is so useful when starting solids, is Weaning sense by Kath Megaw and Meg Faure.
It covers everything from cues and when to start solids as well as their own sensory personality. The book also covers topics such as allergies and intolerance issues and some great recipes too.
Tips on how to get started with a fussy eater:
- Establish healthy mealtimes.
- Understand portion sizes for different ages.
- Eat the rainbow. Try different foods regularly. Remember can it take 15-20 times, of trying a product before a child will accept it.
- Eat without distraction, try to eat at a table without distraction where possible.
- Eat by example, you are your child’s role model. They learn what “normal” is from you.
- Keep it positive! Notice the small things they are doing. Like trying a new food, even if it is just a bite .
- Make it fun. Food is social and part of our lives. Find ways to make eating fun and remove the anxiety. Try a picnic supper or letting kids get involved with the preparation of food.
Some breakfasts to try for picky eaters
Some lunches and lunch box ideas to try for picky eaters
Join our tribe here. We would love to hear more about your fussy eaters and what has worked for you.