Top tips for picky eating

  • Never force feed. This will only make your little one less likely to accept new foods.
  • Trust your little one’s internal cues. From weaning to toddler teatimes, your little one is gaining autonomy which you should let them express. Parents can worsen fussy eating by encouraging toddlers to eat more than they need. They are more in tune with their hunger cues than we are, so capitalise on that and let them determine how much they’ll eat.
  • You’re the mirror image. Remember that seeing you and your family eating is an integral part to you little one overcoming their fussy habits, so if there is a food they won’t eat include it in the meal and let them see you and your family enjoying it.
  • Keep structured meal and snack times. Ideally this means three meals and two snacks a day, sat together in a comfortable, relaxed environment. Even if your little one refuses to eat anything, it’s important that they see the rest of the family eat at the expected times.
  • Forget ‘finish your plate’. Meal and snack times should be the same duration every time. This sets expectations and means that eating isn’t about finishing your plate, but instead it’s about enjoying the time you sit together and whatever isn’t eaten in that time gets taken away.
  • Don’t draw attention to it. Whatever your little one’s likes and dislikes, try not to focus on it. Eating as a family is about more than just finishing what’s on your plate. Try to enjoy the time together and not give the fussy eating centre stage.
  • Don’t use food as a reward. If you’re little one has eaten something new, reward them with your attention and words.
  • Respect your little one’s preferences. They have different sensory experiences to foods as you, some children love cold foods others hate crunchy foods. It might be helpful to keep a food diary to identify any similarities between the foods being accepted and / or refused. If you see a pattern, try some to add a new food that meets the charactersitics you’ve identified.
  • Tone down, don’t conceal. If you hide refused veggies in other foods, not only do you not accustom your little one to the flavour but if they realise they may feel tricked and become even more resistant. Instead, tone down flavours using herbs, spices or less intense measures, such as cauliflower cheese or broccoli.
  • Enjoy food! Involve your little one in the shopping, preparation and cooking of food.

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