How to cope if your child is a fussy eater

Feeding can throw up all sorts of problems. Parenting expert Kathryn Mewes, answers one reader’s question about how to handle a fussy eater…

Q) How do I get my two-year-old to try new foods? He had a limited diet and seems to just like what he likes

All children between the ages of two to five go through a stage of being a fussy eater. This is totally normal due to their wanting to push boundaries. The key is not to get stuck in the rut of always giving them what you know they will eat. I always tell older children that it is not realistic to think you can always have your ‘favourite’ foods.

READ MORE: Expert advice on fussy eating

Here are a few points I would try to follow:

  • Devise a meal plan and make your son aware at the beginning of the day as to what dinner is going to be. He then has all day to digest what he will see on his plate at dinner time.
  • Sit and eat with him but do not focus on the food. Sit and chat to him and if he decides not to eat this is fine. The first step is that new foods are on his plate and he is happy to leave them there.
  • Allow the meal plan to have something each day that he recognises and likes so he always has one item on his plate that is familiar.
  • Accept that it takes six times of serving a new meal before a child will trust it and try and taste it. You need to keep going. Batch cooking can be a lifesaver!
  • If he hasn’t started to eat after 20 minutes at the table the chances are he isn’t going to eat it. Allow him to have some fruit and yoghurt and then to leave the table. Be clear with him that there is no more food now until breakfast time.
  • The most important thing about meal times is that a child comes to the table hungry. Ideally they haven’t eaten anything on the 2.5–3 hour build up before lunch or dinner.
  • Now is the time to relax around the table and let your son make the simple decision as to whether he is going to eat or not. He will not waste away and he will manage until breakfast time!
  • Final point – remain consistent with the change. Don’t slip back into old ways of your son dictating what he has to eat. Best of luck with making some changes when you feel ready to do so.

READ MORE: Genetics partly to blame for fussy eating

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