If meals in your household are a constant struggle, here are a few practical tips for parents from us at Nutritional Solutions:

Make eating enticing

Fussy eaters tend to not like mixed dishes, like spaghetti bolognese, according to research.

  • Make your child’s meals as visually appealing as possible. Use colourful child appropriate cutlery that makes the meal time look interesting and intriguing for your child.
  • Experiment with colours using a variety of fruits and vegetables on the plate.
  • Cut and arrange foods into interesting shapes which can tie in well with learning at school or play group too.
  • Once your child is a little older, help them to feel more involved in the meal by getting them to prepare food with you or help setting the table.
  • Focus on the positive and reinforce with a friendly tone of voice to create a warm and inviting eating environment.

Practice patience

Researchers say that it takes up to 15 repeated exposures to a new food before a child accepts it.

  • Offer one new food at a time and only in small amounts to prevent overwhelming your child.
  • Serve a new food along with a favourite food. This will help improve the likelihood of your child accepting the new food.
  • Children thrive on routine and schedule. Establish a signal for meal time such as a warm bath or hand washing, and allow time for play after meals. The anticipation may encourage your child to finish the plated food sooner.
  • Force-feeding should be avoided. Remember that fussy eating may not just be about food but also about the strive for independence, forming part of a child’s normal social and physical development.

Your child will follow your example, not your advice!

We know that a child’s acceptance of a new food is highly influenced by parents and siblings, particularly the mothers.

    • Start influencing your child during pregnancy. Studies have suggested a child’s exposure to flavours through amniotic fluid and breast milk may influence food acceptance.
    • If you do not want your child to eat a food, do not bring into the home or be seen eating it. Such observations may undermine healthy, nutritious food and create the impression that sweet treats should be valued over healthier foods.
    •  Set an example by allowing your child to see you trying new and interesting foods. Choose a fruit or vegetable at the supermarket and encourage your child to do the same. Having chosen the food will mean your child takes responsibility and ownership to eat it.