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That Awkward Fussy Eating Stage

Updated: Mar 19

Healthy Eating for Fussy Children

If you have a child who is a fussy eater, you might be wondering how to make sure they get enough nutrients and enjoy a balanced diet. Fussy eating is very common among children, especially toddlers and pre-schoolers. They may refuse to eat certain foods, only eat a few types of foods, or change their preferences frequently. This can be frustrating and worrying for parents, but there are some strategies that can help.

First of all, don't panic. Most fussy eaters are healthy and grow normally. They may just need some time and encouragement to try new foods and develop their tastes. As long as your child eats some food from the four main food groups (fruit and vegetables; potatoes, bread, rice, pasta and other starchy carbohydrates; dairy or dairy alternatives; and beans, pulses, fish, eggs, meat and other proteins), they are getting enough variety.

Secondly, be patient and persistent. It may take many attempts before your child accepts a new food. Don't force them to eat it or bribe them with rewards. Instead, offer it to them repeatedly in small portions and praise them when they taste it or eat it . You can also make the food more appealing by cutting it into fun shapes, arranging it into patterns or faces on the plate, or involving your child in preparing it. Try to introduce new foods alongside familiar ones that your child likes.

Thirdly, create a positive environment for mealtimes. Sit together as a family and eat the same food as your child whenever possible. This way, your child can learn by watching you and copying you. Avoid distractions like TV or phones during mealtimes and focus on having a pleasant conversation instead. Don't put too much pressure on your child to finish their plate or sit still for too long. Let them decide how much they want to eat and respect their hunger and fullness cues.

Finally, include food in other aspects of your child's life. Read books about food or eating with them, play games with toy food or pretend eating, take them shopping for different fruits and vegetables, or show them the whole food before chopping or cooking it. This can help them become more familiar with different foods and more curious about trying them.

Remember that fussy eating is usually a temporary phase that most children grow out of eventually. The key is to keep offering a variety of healthy foods in a relaxed way without making a big deal out of it. If you are concerned about your child's growth or health because of their fussy eating habits, talk to your GP or health visitor for advice.





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