How To Deal With Picky / Fussy Eaters

Too Late! I Have a Fussy Eater

What can I do?

Encourage Positivity

OK, so we know there are some days when this can be hard, but keep trying to be positive at every meal. You may feel really cross that your beautiful food is going to waste, but try to hide any feelings of frustration. Try never to lecture your child at the table, leave that for another time.

Try to avoid commenting on what your child is (or is not) eating. Steer clear of suggesting they eat that "delicious broccoli" for example. When your child does try something new, or eats one thing on the plate really well, praise her for this good behaviour. If you ignore the bad behaviour your child will soon see she gets more attention from being good rather than from being a fussy eater. If you don't fuss and are relaxed and calm, then your child will be less likely to fuss.

Eating With Your Baby

Whenever you are able to, try to all sit down at the table together to eat. If there is less focus on your child's behaviour and the food he is eating, he is likely to get on and eat more of it. If you are all eating the same foods, he will also consider this normal and will be more likely to copy older siblings or, for example his Daddy. The benefit of eating together is that it also teaches your child about the social side of having a meal - that chatting together about what has happened to you that day while eating delicious food can be a pleasurable experience.

Eating With Your Baby and Others

Invite a group of your child's friends over for teatime. You will often find that your child eats better when surrounded by a group of her peers. If she sees her best friend eating mouthfuls of baby carrots she is much more likely to have a try of them too.

Cooking With Your Baby

Young children absolutely love cooking. Getting their hands dirty with messy sauces, playing with grated cheese and making fruit smoothies are all really fun. Being involved in making their food gives children a much better understanding of what their food is and how it is made. If you give them a choice of toppings for their pasta or fillings for their sandwiches this will give them a sense of control too. The other benefit of cooking is that it can be a really enjoyable activity for you to do together, helping you both to enjoy the fun side of food. Encourage your child to make funny shapes or faces with their food, to bring out their creative side.

A great idea, if you have a group of children over for tea, is to get them to make their own healthy mini pizzas. Cut some English muffins in half and toast them. Then get each child to spread on some chopped tomatoes or passata with a teaspoon. Encourage the children to choose and sprinkle on the cheese and toppings (like ham, pineapple, grapes and herbs) they would like from a range of little bowls of ingredients. All the children will think this is loads of fun and be proud of the pizza they have for their tea - a reward for their hard work.

What Portion Size Should My Baby Get?

When serving up their food, give your child a tiny portion to begin with. That way his plate isn't piled high and is less daunting. If he finishes all of it and wants more, you will both get a real sense of achievement.

Children respond really well to fun presentation and may be more likely to try their food if, for example you make it into the shape of a cat's face, the Loch Ness Monster or even a simple sunshine made with a dip in the centre surrounded by strips of vegetables.

If you're making a pie or a casserole, try serving them in ramekins as children love eating out of small containers. Make a large batch and freeze them - this makes life easier on busy days.

Your child may frown at the sight of a whole banana, but if you try threading bite-size fresh fruit onto straws (with their help of course) suddenly your child may want to give it a try. Homemade fruit smoothies are fun to create together and can also be a sneaky way of getting your child to have some of her five a day.

When Should My Baby Eat?

You should decide what your child is going to eat, but they can then choose to eat as much, or as little, as they want. Don't be tempted to make something else for them if they refuse to eat anything - that just reinforces the idea that the first thing you made wasn't very nice. You can feel like the bad guy doing this, but stick to your guns so that every meal doesn't become a menu of unlimited options for your child.

Should I Bribe My Baby?

Many parents resort to bribery to try to encourage their fussy eater to try their main course. Instead of offering your child a cake or sweets for dessert, offer them a yogurt instead. For older children sticker charts can be a brilliant way of rewarding them for good behaviour, and stickers won't damage their teeth either!

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This internet site provides information of a general nature and is designed for educational purposes only. If you have any concerns about your own health or the health of your child, you should always consult a doctor or other healthcare professional.