If you are a parent, I am sure at some point of your child’s growing journey you are aware of fussy eating term. I spend a lot of time with parents and provided a support to tackle their fussy eater. Here is some useful information below to understand fussy eating and what to do with your little one!
A commonly used definition in health arena of fussy eating is “An unwillingness to eat familiar foods or try new foods, severe enough to interfere with daily routines to an extent that it is problematic to the child, parent or child-parent relationship.” Fussy eating, also known as picky, faddy or choosy eating
WHEN IS FUSSY EATING A CONCERN?
As parents, we are always concerned when our child is a fussy eater, or he/she eats less than what we expect from them. However, there are certain factors that needs to be considered as a concern with fussy eaters:
Poor growth- if there are any concerns around child’s growth based on centile charts.
Extremely limited food intake – when a child eats less than 10 foods, or if a child is extremely specific for certain flavours of foods
Constipation and iron deficiency anaemia- these factors can lower child’s appetite. Factors that can impact on child’s appetite- any past unpleasant experiences around food or eating, eating behaviours etc
Some valuable tips to follow:
- Develop a routine for mealtimes and snacks: Make sure you offer meals and snacks at the same time each day (more or less)
- Offer 3 meals and 2 snacks per day - not too close to mealtimes. Offer your child an access to nutritious foods.
- You can decide WHAT your child can eat but it is child who must decide HOW MUCH to eat.
- No distractions: Keep any electronic equipment’s or devices away or switched off.
- Encourage a variety of foods where possible, and show in your own behaviour that a wide range of foods can be enjoyed
- Try to eat together as a family as often as possible: Sit and eat together as often as you can. Allow your child to help in table setting and tidy up time.
- Children love to be involved with food preparation - get creative and start cooking with your children. Involve her in measuring/weighing foods, cleaning and stirring foods together.
- Don’t always force her to clear their plate. Don’t offer any food based “rewards” in the sense of “getting a dessert but only if you eat your vegetables first”.
- Be patient. You may have to offer a new food at least 10 times before your child eventually grows to truly accept it.
- Be a good role model yourself as a parent: Children see you as their role models so create a positive and healthy environment around mealtimes and appreciate your child when they try a new food item or a meal.
- Keep mealtimes short and sweet for around 20 minutes Set realistic goals for introducing any new foods and seek a support if you need more ideas or support.