My child won’t eat: Top Tips for a Fussy Eater Toddler!

This is one of the most stressful things that a parent has to cope with; a fussy eater who won’t try new food! As a parent you are given lots of information about what your child should eat, all those fruit and vegetables for a start! And no junk food, no crisps, no ready food, no biscuits. But the toddlers haven’t read the media advice, or if they have, they are ignoring it. So what can you do? And how much should you worry?

In the first of two blogs about fussy eating, we’ll be discussing what is important to know, and what to do with a fussy eater.

Is fussy eating normal?

It’s important to stress that at around the age of 2 years most children will start to get fussy; it is a normal stage of development (called food neophobia). At this age children will suddenly start to refuse any new food ON SIGHT and push away food that they used to eat before if it looks slightly different. They start to move out of this stage at around 3 or 4 years of age.

What I can I do about this?

Even though this is a normal stage, there are some things you can do to make things easier. Here are our top tips.

Top Five Things to Do with a Fussy Eater

  1. Safe foods. Allow your fussy child to eat the foods that they do like – their safe foods – appropriate growth is more important in the early years than dietary range
  2. Eat with your child at mealtimes. Even if they are not eating the food you want them to eat they are more likely to eat it eventually if they see you eat it. Eat with other families especially if they have children too
  3. Encourage them to interact with foods
    • Plan activities where they handle bits of fruit or vegetables – make pictures
    • Look, find and name foods in the shops and supermarket
    • Grow food – even in a plant pot on the window sill
    • Make food – roll dough, mix sauces
  4. Messy play. Don’t wipe all the time! Fussy eaters are over sensitive to touch, so desensitize with messy play –in the garden, face paints, playdoh
  5. Reward for tasting. You can start up a game with other children, look at some very small pieces of a new food, if you put it in your mouth you get a sticker! Do this away from mealtimes and allow spitting out!

Found these helpful? Why not share with your friends? And come back soon for our top five things to avoid with a fussy eater!

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Further Reading

  • Vegetarian and vegan diets have become increasingly popular over the past few years, with more and more parents raising their children on a plant-based diet. Toddlers have high-energy needs and small stomachs, so it is important parents know how to ensure their child gets all the nutrients needed for healthy growth and development. The Infant & Toddler Forum are here to help with practical tips and advice for parents considering a vegetarian or vegan diet for their toddler.
  • Encouraging toddlers to keep physically active will help them to develop movement skills, stay a healthy weight and keep a healthy heart. No matter the weather, we have fun activities which will keep your toddler active and entertained this Easter!
  • Pregnant women are given lots of advice surrounding healthy eating and lifestyle, but this is often based on old or outdated information. There are so many myths and misconceptions floating around that it can be difficult for mums-to-be to tell fact from fiction. Here are our tips and guidance, so you can feel confident about having a healthy pregnancy.