11 TIPS THAT WILL STOP YOUR KIDS BEING FUSSY EATERS
Being more relaxed, offering praise and learning about
fruit and veg all help.
There’s nothing more frustrating than watching a child depressingly pick
at a meal you’ve slaved over. But kids are often fussy eaters. Even
those who start off well can go through phases where they decide they
don’t like meat, vegetables or anything they haven’t seen before.
Dr Frances Maratos, reader in emotion science, and Jayne Trovati, a PhD
student researching this area, both at the University of Derby, reveal
their top tips…
1. Ensure fresh fruit is on display at home to promote healthy snacking.
2. Don’t let children snack before a main meal. If you give them a snack
30 minutes before dinner, for example, they’ll be more likely to ‘pick’
or show less interest in the mealtime food.
3. Try to make mealtimes pleasant and get the family together (ideally
around a table, if possible).
4. Try serving meals in courses. This doesn’t need to be fancy, but
could consist of cherry tomatoes, carrots, peppers and/or celery as a
‘starter’. This encourages toddlers and children to eat a wider variety
5. Always try to include fruit and vegetables in main meals, such as
carrots in spaghetti bolognese, or sliced fruit with a small amount of
custard for dessert.
6. Don’t use plates that separate different foods. This encourages the
idea of ‘contamination’. Instead, ensure pasta dishes and recipes like
chilli and rice are presented as mixed entities. If you do present food
separately, you will need to slowly start to address this (little by
7. If your toddler or child dislikes a food, try to ensure that a very
small amount is included on their plate, but do not force them to eat
it. Simply getting them used to the expectation of the food being on
their plate is a start.
8. Do not worry if your child still refuses to eat a particular food.
Repeated exposure (without pressure to eat the food) is key. Most
children tend to grow out of fussy eating. What’s essential is providing
a safe, pleasant mealtime experience.
9. Read stories about fruits and vegetables with your child, to get them
familiar with these foods in a safe, relaxed environment.
10. Don’t use pressure to encourage eating, as this creates anxiety
which can exacerbate fussy eating.
11. Last, but not least, use modelling behaviour and positive
reinforcement to demonstrate eating expectations. Be consistent too –
i.e. don’t expect your child to eat something you will not!