How To Deal With Picky / Fussy Eaters
What's all the fuss about?
It happens more often than you might think that a baby who was once eager to try everything, can start to reject their food as they get older. They may push their plate away, turn their noses up at it or simply refuse to touch or try it. You can start to feel a bit paranoid, as often you convince yourself that this behaviour seems to happen more when you have spent time and effort preparing the food: if your child has seen you slave away to produce a lovely home cooked meal, they want it in the bin; but if it has come out of a packet, they guzzle it down!
Many of us were brought up hearing our parents telling us about all the starving children in the world who would give anything for the food we had in front of us. We've always been encouraged to eat everything. So, when you find yourself scraping another plate load of uneaten food into the bin, it is easy to feel resentful and stressed out by this. You may even start to hear yourself lecturing your child with those very same words that you heard growing up.
You're not the only one
It is very easy to become downhearted by your child's fussiness, but be reassured that you are not alone. It is thought that as many as nine in ten children go through at least one stage of fussy eating. It is totally natural to find fussiness frustrating, but try to remember that it is normally just another stage your child is going through.
Evolution may be to blame
Human beings have an in-built fear of new things. Boffins call it "neophobia". It is thought that we evolved neophobia to protect ourselves - to prevent us from trying new things that could be unsafe. This is why in adulthood we find that successful entrepreneurs are a rare breed because they tend to be individuals who are more likely to take big risks that go against the grain for most of us.
Fussiness is linked with the need for independence
In a baby's first year she will grow much more quickly than at any other time in her life. So this makes it pretty easy to get her to eat new foods. Weaning your baby (from six months of age) is a really exciting time, when your baby is learning about food, tasting her first flavours and experiencing different textures. By the end of your baby's first year she should be able to eat the same meals as the rest of the family.
As your baby enters her second year, she is becoming her own person. She becomes more confident at feeding himself. Fussy eating could be your child's way of testing how far she can push you. She is trying to gain some control over her own life. She'll work out that by pushing her food away this can get her a lot of attention.
Some good news!
The good news is that most fussy eaters who were eating well beforehand go back to eating well. (The bad news is that they do this when they are ready to.)