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How To Deal With Fussy Eaters

8 min read | 02 September 2019

Knowing that other mums are in the exact same position, Jo, a naturopath, nutritionist and co-founder of Franjo’s Kitchen, has come up with some tips to help others get through this sometimes stressful time.


Before we discuss some ways to help overcome a fussy eater, it’s important to acknowledge that being picky about food is a normal part of growing up. There’s a good chance you, your sibling or your friends were fussy about food when you were young too. Typically, children become less fussy as they grow up, however, some picky eating habits will stay with them until they are well into adulthood.

Why do children become fussy eaters?

There are a number of reasons why your little one may have become a fussy eater, although the primary cause is that it's part of their development. Even though they may like a particular food one day then dislike it the next, picky and fussy eating is a way of asserting their independence and exploring their environment.

How to Help Deal With a Fussy Eater?

It’s no secret that dealing with a fussy eater can be difficult and frustrating at times. One day they are open to trying all your wonderful foods, the next they are refusing to eat something they’ve been munching on for the last few weeks.

Ensuring your child is in safe, stress-free eating environment during mealtime will help with their willingness to try foods. To help promote a fun, stress-free mealtime, we’ve put together a list of our top 10 tips on how to deal with a fussy eater:

1. Reduce milk

Once your child reaches 12 months old, milk does not necessarily have to be a staple in their diet. In fact, I find that milk really hinders the development of a child’s ‘solid food’ diet. Solid food should now make up for the majority of their calories. Often, I find that fussy eaters are big milk drinkers.

2. Routine

Get a bit of a routine around food and stick with it. Kids that constantly pick at snacks all morning are clearly not going to be hungry for lunch. Try and limit food 2hrs before the next main meal. If they are picking at snacks, it might be worth either increasing the size of their meal or offering more healthy snacks during the day to help tide them over.

3. Reduce pressure

Unless your child is severely underweight or ill, take the pressure off yourself. If they miss lunch, don’t stress, they will eventually eat. The more pressure you put on them the more likely they will rebel. Forcing them to eat food they don’t want is stressful for you and your child—and certainly not conducive to a pleasant eating environment for them.

4. Listen to you toddler

Try not to put pressure on your child to eat the complete plate of food if they are convincingly telling you they have had enough. We are the generation of wellness change and we have to teach our children to listen to their bodies and stop when they are full. Of course, you have to be strong and if they are then asking for dessert 5 minutes later they had you hook, line and sinker - you, therefore, need to put dinner back in front of them.

5. Get them involved

Get your children involved in the kitchen. Make them part of the preparation, and get them excited about food and what it has to offer them nutritionally but also socially. Food is a way to connect with others. It is fun and exciting but also obviously delicious. Teach them this. Food is not just to sustain and satisfy nutritionally.

6. Balance

As your children get older, begin to educate them about better food choices, about health and wellbeing and that their body will get ‘sad’ or ‘unhappy’ and won’t work very well if you give it too much sugar and not-so-healthy foods.

7. Don't deprive

On the other hand, if you never offer or allow your children to enjoy not-so-healthy foods then you may end up with a child that overindulges when the opportunity arises (e.g a friend's birthday party) or begins to sneak in foods. Don’t deprive your child of these experiences. Balance and honesty is the key.

8. Don't be hard on yourself

Parenting takes strength, willpower and energy. Make sure you are filling yourself up so you have these things and do not give in. Occasionally giving in is fine but if you feel like you are giving in each day with treats and not-so-good food because they are not eating their proper meals then maybe it is time to change.

9. Teach them

For some meals, try and load up meals with vegetables and ‘hide’ them in risotto, soups, homemade burgers, pasta sauces etc. Try not to get in the habit of this all the time. Be honest with your children, teach them about food and get them excited about it.

10. Be positive

Remember, you want to help establish a good relationship between your child and their diet. Be positive about it and do not let it consume you or them.

While fussy eating may feel like a constant uphill struggle with your little one, being able to introduce a variety of healthy food choices will benefit them for the rest of their lives. If they don’t like a certain food, is there another similar option you could give them? Can you get them more involved in the food preparation process so they want to eat what they help make? Whatever strategy works for your fussy eater, just always keep in mind to keep it a positive experience and they’ll be back to eating a variety of foods in no time.

To make meal time a breeze, shop our full range of baby feeding accessories, including bibs, face washers, dinnerware sets and more at Purebaby now.

For more tips, read Jo’s full blog over at https://franjoskitchen.com/blogs/news

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