I think the question I get asked the most is: what to do with a fussy eater. Children are unpredictable and can be quite the dictators when it comes to meal time and the food they like!
So here are some tips.
- Mealtime routine
I know it can be difficult sometimes to have set times for meals and snacks, but children do like routines and knowing what is coming makes it easier for them to be prepared and be less stressed about it.
- Don't expect too much
It is most likely that your child will not eat everything all the time, it is even more common for them to only eat 1 or 2 types of food that are on their plates. Don't force them, although difficult, try and be patience and let them make their choices, they might not be as hungry as you think.
- Offer different food
They might not eat it all, they might leave it all, always try and offer different foods through the week. My trick is to always put one thing they will like (in very small quantities) on the plate and then another 1 or 2 for them to try or eat alongside. You know the old say, they need to try something at least 20 times....try more like a billion. Don't give up just keep offering.
- Make time for family meals
Eating as a family is very important, so, even if it is once a week, make sure you stick to it. Sit at the table, swith off the tv, eat and chat about the day ahead or gone by. It will distract from eating and make them feel part of the conversation. Also, children love to copy what we do, the more we show them, the more likely they are to follow suit.
- Let them help with chasing and prepping food
The more a child is involved in making their meal, the more likely they are to try it. Let them help you with the grocery shopping. Give them choices on what to make for dinner and then let them help, even if it is just washing one veggies or mixing an egg. It will boost their confidence and knowledge of food.
- Healthy snacks
Always have some healthy snacks ready in between meals, something like chopped up veggies or fruit. Leave a bowl out for them to pick from, it will encourage their independence and also will make them feel like they are making their own choice on what to eat.
Most importantly, remember, they will never like everything. Like and dislikes are normal, so try and be patience, don't count bites or bribe, don't make separate meals. Just smiles, praise every good behaviour at the dinner table and let them know that you are not forcing them too eat when they are not hungry or might not feel like eating.