10 Tips To Tame Little Fussy Eaters

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The most common question I get asked is ‘How do I get my fussy little eater to eat?’ Being a nanny/childminder for over 18 years I may have a few tricks up my sleeve to help…

We all go through picky food days. But when it’s day after day, problems can set in and it can get so frustrating for both parent and smallie. Picky eating is worrying, affecting children’s behaviour, sleep and mood. If it’s something that has started after a tummy bug, the bug could still be lingering around, so give the child time to get better. If you’re unsure always check with your GP. When everything else looks fine and you feel you have exhausted every angle, wipe the slate clean and give my tips a try – with NO smiley faced food involved I promise!

Set meals  – Try to have set meal times. Three meals a day and 2 snacks. Avoid grazing throughout the day.

Turn off any distractions – I put away my own phone at meal times (as hard as it is at times, it’s the only way to get some undivided attention). Do a countdown beforehand like ‘Dinner is going to be in 10 mins guys, I’m going to switch off the telly!” Little guys love to know what’s coming next.

Family time –Try to sit down as a family as often as you can (I know this can be an impossible task sometimes) but when you can, do it, and try to serve the same meal to everyone if only to save the “cooks” sanity.

Timing –Make sure you have enough time for meals and don’t rush them, that way it’s enjoyable for everyone. (Imagine having a coffee in a coffee shop and the waitress wiping the table hurrying you along, she could end up wearing the coffee!) It’s the same for kids. Allow 25 minutes or so for meals, but don’t drag it out either.

Praise – Avoid using sugary treats as a reward, reward with your time. A game or a trip to the park is perfect.

Limit juice – Try not to let the child fill up on juice or milk throughout the day. Milk is meant to be enjoyed with a meal, not be the meal. Ideally, a toddler should drink around 2 cups of milk a day once they’ve turned two. Offer water instead of juice when possible.

No fuss –Try not to make a fuss (one fussy person at the table is enough) stay calm, but be matter of fact about it. Say things like ‘We eat our dinner so we have plenty of energy to play! Our food helps us to grow.’

Language – Try not to use phrases like ‘Don’t leave the table until your finished’. Phrases like ‘Good boy/girl, stay at the table your doing a great job’ work better!

Portions – Offer small portions and a varied diet. Try your best to avoid plain foods (as hard as it is). Put the full meal on the plate. My 3 year old hates red peppers. I still put them in lasagne, I mix them in so she can’t see them. Be sneaky and hide the veggies when you can! Try to Introduce new flavours. There will always be some food kids just don’t have a taste for, accept that, don’t force, encourage all the time.

Ready steady cook – Get the kids cooking. Pick out recipes together! OK they’re not guaranteed to eat them, but they will give it they’re best shot. It will be a bit of bonding time if nothing else.

Keep calm, don’t give up! Tomorrow is another day…

P.S. For recipes, parenting tales and more tips you will also find me hanging out over on my blog One yummy mummy  @ Twitter My Facebook Page  and Instagram 

Jolene x

Jolene Cox
Jolene Cox
Jolene has worked in the childcare sector her whole life, but when it comes to parenting she's winging it like the rest of us. Her passions are creating family food on a budget by day, and swigging a glass of red while writing her parenting stories by night. You can also find her hanging out at her Award-winning parenting and food blog One Yummy Mummy