Top tips for fussy eaters

Be a good role model.

If you’re a fussy eater then you may have to make peace with the idea that your child may be a fussy eater too. Lead by example and try to expand your diet to show him that you enjoy a wide variety of foods.

Ask your child to help with the preparation of a meal.

Your child is more likely to eat a meal he has helped to make.

Set up regular habits for eating.

Make sure that your child understands what is expected of him when he eats.

Make sure that the food you serve looks interesting.

By including a few differently coloured foods on his plate, he may become more interested in his food. If he has food favourites, include them and work from there.

Encourage self-feeding from a young age.

Being actively involved in eating – rather than sitting passively receiving food – will encourage him to take an interest in the food he’s being served.

Find a food he will eat from each food group.

If your child doesn’t like milk, try offering yoghurt or cheese.

Finish dinnertime.

Once your child has eaten as much of a meal as he’s going to, take away his plate and finish the meal. This will discourage him from drifting away from the table with the expectation that he can drift back later to pick at his food.

Make sure that your expectations are realistic.

Your child is not a small adult and you can’t expect him to eat like an adult.

Serve child-size meals.

He can always ask for a second helping! Generally serve three small meals a day, with a snack in between.

Here are some extra tips from renowned child development specialist, parent educator, and author of Just Tell Me What To Say: Sensible Tips and Scripts for Perplexed Parents, Betsy Brown Braun:

Stop talking about it: stop worrying about it!

The harder you try to force food on a child, the less likely he will want to eat it. The more you talk about it, the more tightly your child will hold her lips closed. Do not comment on what the child is or isn’t eating. Not one word.

Use different plates.

In addition to offering small portions, serve your picky eater on smaller plates and use small utensils. Bread plates are less threatening, Occasionally serve a meal or a snack on a party plate. In so doing the emphasis is taken off the food and put onto the fun plate.

Offer a few choices.

Smorgasbord snacks and meals, including bite-size servings of a variety of choices, make the child feel powerful in choosing for himself. Too many choices can be overwhelming, so offer two and no more than three.

When introducing a new food item, don’t put it on your child’s plate.

Instead, place it on a separate plate away from him, and don’t make a big deal about it. He may or may not be willing to give it a try, but you won’t have sabotaged the possibility by showing your investment in his trial. If by some miracle the child wishes to try the new food, give him a very tiny taste.

Introduce new foods when your child is definitely hungry.

Hungry children are more likely to risk trying something new.

Invite ‘guests’ to join you.

Occasionally invite a favourite doll, stuffed animal, or puppet to join you for dinner. Allow the child to encourage the guest and model how to eat.

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