Fussy Eaters

Lets face it, kids that refuse to eat their meals can drive any sane parent slightly mad at the least. As eating is not only essential but often our social and communicative way we celebrate life- it becomes an important area to keep on top of. Have a look at some tips below to try to get your kids enjoying their food. 



This sounds simple but actually a lot of parents find this very difficult to do with their kids. It may be because we have our own mother’s voices in our heads saying, “Don’t play with your food!” But what play does, is it enters into the joy of the child by bringing food in as a fun, safe companion to life.
Playing with food can be very simple or very elaborate depending on how you would like to do it.
Some parents set out a ‘play food’ activity where there is an array of food in the middle of the table and the children get to select what they like to make pictures on their plates. There is no obligation to eat what they are making but if they want to that is fine.
Encouraging their creative pictures and making it an enjoyable moment is the goal and to eliminate any fear associated by food.
An easier way to do it is at meal times, allow them to make shapes with their food and play with it as they eat it.


Nice, New and Easy

Try this moto of something nice, new and easy when preparing meals for your kids. Make sure there is something you know they like, something they can try and something easy for you to make. For example, I know my kids love canned beetroot, cheese and gherkins so I try to include one of those things in the meal as well as something that I like that might be new to them such as dumplings, sushi, fried onions or something spicy. I then have my go to easy dishes that I know will fill them up- pasta, rice, carrots, mashed or roasted potatoes. Remember that if it is all foreign to your kids, it makes it harder for them to eat. However, if there is only one or two new things or things they find hard to eat on the plate, it makes it easier to give it a try.


Try It

Using napkins next to their plate, get your child to try a new food. If this is a big step for your child, have the napkin ready and the goal is to just put the food into the mouth and out – one quick taste. Into the napkin it goes and praise the child for accomplishing the task. This is a three step process. The next time (maybe the next day or next week) see if they can keep the food in their mouth for ten seconds and maybe have a chew if necessary before spitting into the napkin once again. The third time is a swallow if they are able to. If not, keep them in step one or two until they are ready to move on.
After getting much praise and encouragement, children are able to see that it’s okay to try food out and are able to politely spit into a napkin if they don’t like the taste.

Help Yourself

Instead of placing your child’s food on their plate, put all the food into nice serving dishes in the middle of the table and let your children take what they want. The two rules in our family is that they have to have some veges on their plate and whatever they put on their plate they have to eat. This works really well for our family but the first time we did it they piled their plates high with cheese. They soon realised that a lot of cheese is not that nice to eat. Since then they have learned portion control which is actually a great skill to have in listening to your body and knowing when enough is enough instead of finishing a plate full of food that was not packed by you. As a parent, I don’t know how hungry my child is, so trusting them to make that judgement takes practice but pays off as they learn to listen to their bodies own needs.After getting much praise and encouragement, children are able to see that it’s okay to try food out and are able to politely spit into a napkin if they don’t like the taste.

Help Out

When children are able to help in the kitchen preparing the food, they see and feel the work that goes in and often want to try what they have worked hard to make. The best thing to do when letting them help out, is trying the food as they go. Describe the food, talk about the names of veges and your favourite spices. Tell them stories of when you had an amazing meal that you loved. This infuses inspiration and motivation around food.

Swap Meals Around

This could look like having breakfast for dinner, dinner for lunch and lunch for dinner or a popular one for kids is to swap afternoon tea and dinner. How fun is it to have an afternoon tea meal for dinner time? It brings excitement back into meal times. This last swap was a hit for my kids and for myself as they would come home from school and Kindy starving so would hardly complain about eating a big dinner meal and then by the time it is dinner time they only wanted snacks anyhow. The only problem I had was making sure the dinner was prepared early which is not always possible- unless there are already left overs in the fridge.

Plant It

Pulling veges out of the ground and eating them straight away gives children a sense of excitement. I know for my children, they never liked beans until we planted them. It didn’t happen straight away, in fact the first ones we picked they spat right back out. But over the next few days, when they thought I wasn’t looking, I saw them sneak another bite or two until they started to really love them. Sometimes they just need the pressure taken off them to let them explore on their own.