Fussy eaters are always a hot topic between Mums. I am the fussiest eater of all and it’s a total nightmare. Even now i’m a grown up, if we are invited anywhere for dinner or go to a restaurant, I worry about what will be on the menu. Actually it’s more than that, sometimes I dread it! That’s why I was determined that my girls would not be fussy eaters like me.
Now i’m not suggesting that my children are total angels or that they never look at my loving prepared offerings and say “I’m not eating that” but generally they eat really well, will try most things and are not fussy eaters.
Here’s my top tips:
1. Always try to eat together as a family. If not possible every day do it as often as you can.
2. When not eating with your children then sit at the table with them whilst they eat. We always talk about our days and share the best and worst bits. It is a really is an important part of our day.
3. Right from the start don’t get into cooking kids meals….only cook one meal for the whole family. If they eat it great but if not, don’t offer anything else. We don’t force our children to eat anything but we don’t offer alternatives either. Don’t worry they won’t die just because they missed one meal. I wouldn’t offer any other food that evening although I might give them milk before bed (they don’t have it often these days). It sounds really strict but works!
4. Offer small portions of new foods/meals. They can always have more if they love it.
5. We encourage our children to stay at the table and talk about their days even if they don’t want to eat what is placed in front of them…this usually results in them trying it after a while anyway. This was Daisys reaction to green spinach pasta:
“Yuck I don’t want green pasta, its green. I don’t like that.” Pushed her plate away. After about 10 minutes of chatting at the table we heard “….mmmmm this is actually quite yummy, can I have some more please?”
6.If they are disruptive, sit them on the naughty step (or make them go wherever you send them when being disciplined at home). They can come back when they are ready to behave. That way they don’t upset everyone else and spoil the meal.
7. Let children get involved with cooking at home and deciding the menu. In our house Daisy (aged 5) is the best at mashing potato and she loves it! Rosie is quite happy chopping and stirring whilst Poppy loves helping in anyway she can. It’s good for them to get involved from an early age. They are more likely to eat it when they’ve made it too.
8. When trying new foods place a little plate or dish by theirs. That way if they really don’t like something they can put it on there and forget about it. Children get hung up when foods they dislike are still on their plate and are touching the things they do like.
9. Don’t offer too many snacks. When they were young and probably during the school holidays actually they would have a small snack mid morning and mid afternoon but I’ve seen plenty of children pretty much snack all day. If you don’t let them snack too much they will be hungry and will be more likely to eat their meals.
Now you might find this interesting. With all three of ours, we noticed when they started pre-school at aged 3 and started seeing other children eat, they went through a stage of refusing to eat “saying I don’t like that because…”. You could tell they were reciting someone else excuses. We dealt with this by sticking to these same rules but being super strict. Accepting no nonsense or allowing them to pick up other children’s behaviours. We also reassured them that they do like these foods and always have done. They spent most of the evening meal on the naughty step and ate very little for a few days. However, we stuck with it and in all three cases it lasted around a week. They were testing the boundaries. Daisy tried it again when she started school and was having school dinners. We did the same thing and after just a few horrendous days of tantrums and little food being eaten she was back to eating as normal. Thankfully we knew exactly what she was up too.
Like I said these rules might not be a complete miracle cure and do sound very strict but we have three children and have done exactly the same with all three right from the start. They are not fussy eaters, eat really well and all this despite having the fussiest Mum of all!
Hope this helps.