Fussy Eating in Children is Common…


Fussy Eating in Children is Common…


Fussy eating in children is common and it’s no surprise to me that the UK has been labelled Europe’s fussiest nation.

How utterly frustrating for parents to offer foods which they have carefully prepared and presented only for their child to turn their nose up, push the plate away or clamp their mouth shut without even tasting it.

In all my years as a Paediatric Nutritionist it’s the one concern I come across time and time again. “Help! My child won’t eat!” Of course it’s not just the wasted food and effort of preparing it that parents are worried about it’s primarily their child’s health. Most parents have a good understanding of what their child should be eating but getting them to eat it can be quite a different challenge. Whether your child refuses fruits, vegetables, new foods, foods of a certain colour or texture or all of the above, take a look at my top tips for dealing with fussy eating…

  • From 12 months aim develop a regular feeding routine of three main meals and 2-3 healthy snacks daily. Aim to offer meals and snacks at roughly the same time each day. Children like routine and will feel more comfortable if they know when to expect food.
  • Be a good role model. Your child will be more likely to try new foods or eat well if other children and adults around them are doing so. If you turn your nose up at a food your child is likely to do the same.
  • Offer small portions. It’s tempting to overload the plate in the hope that your child will eat just a small amount but be careful; over filling the plate can be overwhelming for a fussy eater and may put them off trying any food at all.
  • Praise your child when they eat well or try a new food. Verbal praise or using star charts or stickers is a great way to reinforce good behaviour.
  • Avoid distractions at mealtimes. Distracting children with their favourite cartoon programme or toy whilst you sneak a few spoonful’s of food into their mouth means your child is not actually aware of what they are eating and will not solve the problem. Turn off the TV and tidy away toys so they can focus on the mealtime.
  • Remove any uneaten food after 20-30 minutes without creating a fuss or making any negative comments. Even if your toddler hasn’t eaten anything you should remove the food, place it in the fridge, and offer a healthy snack at the next scheduled snack time. If your child is hungry before the next snack time you should offer them the refused food from the fridge.
  • Allow your child to feed themselves. From 12 months children are usually capable of feeding themselves and will enjoy having control over the food they eat. They are likely to feel more confident and comfortable making mealtimes a more pleasant experience for them.

As with many parenting challenges it’s important to be consistent. Take each mealtime one at a time and remember to set yourself realistic targets. Your child won’t grow out of fussy eating overnight but persevering with these tips may just see your child eating those foods you thought they would never touch.

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Catherine Lippe

Catherine is a Registered Nutritionist (RNutr PH) specialising in paediatric and maternal nutrition. She has over 10 years’ experience as a Nutritionist and has worked in both the private and public sectors including the NHS where Catherine worked for 6 years as a Community Nutritionist for Barts Health.

Catherine offers practical, tailored advice on many aspects of nutrition including;
• pregnancy and breastfeeding
• weaning
• healthy eating for children
• fussy eating
• childhood obesity and weight management
and regularly delivers weaning workshops and fussy eating courses throughout Surrey. She also offers tailored advice, menu planning and training to Early Years settings and schools and has written a number of articles for the media on specialist areas of paediatric and maternal nutrition.

For more information on Catherine’s services please visit www.catherinelippenutrition.co.uk or email Catherine@catherinelippenutrition.co.uk

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  1. Mezza

    Surely you start from the very beginning – eat healthily with a good variety of foods during pregnancy and while breastfeeding. Apparently both affect your child’s tastes in food.

  2. Vanessa

    I did all that when my children were little, but things have not progressed. What do you do when they are still fussy aged 8 &11? Can you recommend any other articles or websites please?

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