Top tips for dealing with fussy little 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.

8 Comments

  1. Angelgirl081 27/11/2017 at 4:58 pm

    These are great tips. I myself am a fussy eater so often worry about my two. Miss 4 isn’t what I’d call fussy but does go through phases of not liking certain foods. She is a lot more open to trying things than I ever was though.
    Miss 10 months has just been referred to a specialist as she still cannot eat solids they make her gag or spew and the doctor has said as she gets older we may have an extra fussy child on her hands due to this issues so these are really good things to keep in mind.

  2. kymmage 12/11/2017 at 4:32 pm

    My husband was quite fussy as a kid, whereas I wasn’t. I think a bit of that fussiness has definitely been inherited by my kids. Though, now I think it’s more than they are super tasters – they taste things so differently to me! Things that hardly taste of anything to me, are more bitter – even for my husband. One thing that helps is to just serve things they’ll eat. So making sure they have a plate of vegetables they will eat, and other food that they love. We also have one kid with sensory issues and that can mean that a beloved thing cooked a certain way will be rejected too. So I try to be mindful of that. Sometimes raw is more palatable.

  3. SarahBlair 12/11/2017 at 4:21 pm

    My two youngest are super fussy eaters, sometimes im amazed that they haven’t faded away! Im going to try these tips to see if I can get them to eat more!

  4. felicity beets 11/11/2017 at 10:35 am

    I find the tip offering a couple of choices works really well and i will have to try a variety of colours more often.

  5. Mands1980 10/11/2017 at 9:18 am

    I have struggled with my first he would never eat meat unless sausages basically slowly he is coming round but has taken a long time. But will still basically only eat veges and meat no salads or anything new it makes cooking hard at times

  6. Jen_Wiig 09/11/2017 at 6:10 pm

    What fabulous tips in this article, i was very lucky with my first two where they just ate anything and everything put in front of them. But mr 3 is proving to be abit fussy in that he will happily eat meat, potato and snack foods but thats it… Anything else and it straight out refuses and being strong willed will happily go to bed hungry or go on food strike as i like to call it…. There a few new “aces up my sleeve” tips here that will empower him and satisfy my worry hes eating right yay

  7. MuddledUpMolly 08/11/2017 at 12:40 pm

    This article is great as our almost 1 year old is starting to experiment with a greater range of foods and we would love dearly for her not to be a fussy eater! Encouraging self feeding from a young age is something that I will particularly focus on. I do encourage her to self feed but I must admit that the mess is incredibly off putting for me! Must put that aside for her sake 🙂

  8. Bevik1971 08/11/2017 at 10:28 am

    Hard one!! Our 4 year old is pretty fussy – she won’t eat anything that “has green stuff on it” haha, yet she will eat broccoli and peas etc. My hubby is stay at home Dad and is a chef by trade (I know lucky!) and he makes everything from scratch so he hides heaps of goodness in meals. Very finely chops/minces garlic, herbs etc in bases for meals and she has no idea they are in there. I think that a lot of parents tend to serve a too large serving for kids and then make them stay until they have finished. We have to remember that their tummies are a lot smaller than adults so can’t eat as much at a sitting. One thing we must do though is get a table and chairs so we can all sit at it together for meals, out place is very small and limited for space, but we are looking at a compact table and chairs to suit.

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