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Is your child a fussy eater? We hope we can help.

Posted 20th January, 2019
Fussy eater?

Spending ages in the kitchen rustling up something tasty for everyone to eat only for your toddler to outright refuse to even take one bite is hugely frustrating.

It’s a scene playing out at dining tables across the country and it’s something that will try even the most patient of parents!

We’ve lost count of the times we’ve welcomed a child to ABC for the first time and their family has informed us they are a fussy eater. Luckily for most it will just be a phase they go through and there are things you can do to help – so today we’re focusing on getting through the phase as calmly and smoothly as possible.

The first thing to remember is why toddlers suddenly become fussy – you may have been feeling pretty smug about all the vegetables they willingly ate while weaning and then all of a sudden they refuse anything that’s not full of sugar, salt or covered in breadcrumbs!

Rest assured, it doesn’t mean you’ve ‘failed’ at weaning, and it certainly doesn’t mean they’ll only be eating chicken nuggets and crisps when they’re 18.

The sudden change is all about asserting their independence, in exactly the same way that they run off at the park to see how far away they can get before you charge after them, or start coming up with delaying tactics to ensure they don’t have to go to bed early.

Some tips to remember are:

Eat together: eating as a family can help to encourage your toddler to at least try something themselves.

It also reinforces dinner as a positive communal time where you can all come together and spend time catching up on how everyone’s day has been, which can only serve to remind them that dinner is a good thing!

Keep trying: it can take multiple attempts for your toddler to truly decide if they like something or not.

The term ‘acquired taste’ doesn’t just apply to the stronger flavours we might think of like cheese, it can apply to anything no matter how bland you might think it is!

If they totally refuse it or won’t eat more than the first bite, just wait a while before putting it on their plate again and keep going – sometimes it can take more than a dozen tastes!

Change the look: similar to the last point, sometimes changing the form or appearance of a food can make it more appealing for your toddler.

Some may adore carrot sticks as a snack but dislike cooked carrots on a roast dinner, and others may be the total opposite.

If all else fails, grating carrot or blending other vegetables into a sauce can be a useful way of sneaking more of their five a day into their food if they’re not keen.

Snacks and drinks: it can be tempting to give multiple snacks a day to make up for the fact they won’t eat much at mealtimes, but that can be counterintuitive as they still only have tiny tummies and it can fill them up and cause more problems than it solves.

Similarly, if you’re giving them high-calorie drinks like milk (or if they’re still breast or bottle feeding) you need to take into account how this will alter their appetite when it comes to food.

It’s just a phase: no matter how frustrating it is and how sick you are of throwing away uneaten food, try to remember in most cases it’s just a phase.

If you’re really concerned then your health visitor can be a good source of advice and if your child is losing weight then definitely get them booked in with their GP.

At ABC we always let you know what your child’s eaten during the day but we’re happy to talk through any encouragement techniques we’ve found useful if you’d like to have a more indepth chat about your little one’s food intake.