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Is your child a fussy eater?

Parents love watching their babies achieve milestones, but one milestone that can be a little frustrating is mealtimes.

As your little one begins striving for more independence, mealtimes can suddenly become hard-work.

Although this can be very frustrating, it’s completely normal for your toddler to become a fussy eater. Toddlers often develop a preference to certain foods and snub others, this is a common phase which usually appears around the age of two.

We all want our children to eat healthy and we worry about what they’re eating through-out the day, but leading experts say we should think about what they’re eating through-out the week rather than a day.

Neophobia

kids not eating vegToddlers can often display signs of neophobia, which is a fear of new food. This is a normal process of developing an instinctive defence against potentially eating dangerous and unsafe food. Knowing this should already put your mind at ease, as it means your little one is developing the instinct to avoid eating anything and everything they come across.

One way of dealing with neophobia is reassurance! You may have already noticed your child watching you pick certain foods up and eating them, this is their curiosity to understanding if a food is safe, and more importantly your reaction.

It’s important to always try to remain positive when eating anything if your little one is watching- even if you don’t like it. This will not only give them the clarification they need to the food’s safety, but also give them the persuasive push to trying new foods.

Eat together

If you ever ask your child’s care staff what your child has eaten that day, you’ll probably be shocked to discover them eating foods they’d never even approach at home. This is because eating in a group often encourages your child to join in with everyone else.

Eating as a family when you’re at home will help them with their fussy eating. Toddlers learn how to eat by copying their parents and family, even if you both have the same food, try to offer them a bit of food from your plate for extra reassurance.

Eating as a family at the table also gives you the perfect opportunity to keep offering praise when your child eats, this will encourage them to keep trying new foods in the long-run.

Fred Dinner Winner Tray

Keep meals interesting

During lunch and dinner, offer your toddler a savoury meal followed by a dessert, but don’t make dessert seem like a reward as it will make their main meal seem even less desirable.

Offering a dessert can give you another option of adding important nutrients to your child’s diet. Fruit can be added to jelly, yoghurt and even a tiny bit of melted chocolate, this gives you more of a chance of your child trying healthier food.

Removing distractions like pets, TV or games will help your child focus more when eating. If your child gets bored easily when eating, turn their food into a game. You can easily achieve this by setting their food in the shape of a picture such as a smiley face, or better yet, get some interesting cutlery that will make eating and mealtimes more fun.

Hide foods
This has to be the oldest trick in the book and you may even remember it yourself as a child. Hiding food won’t make your child trust you less, but it’s important that once they’ve had a taste you let them know what food it is.

Hiding vegetables like sweetcorn in mash potato is an easy one to do, but once your child has tried it and seems happy about what they’re eating, tell them there’s some sweetcorn in there as overtime it will appear less threatening to them.

For drinks; if your child will only drink milk, add a tiny bit of blended fruit to make a milkshake, and over time gradually increase the amount of fruit in the drink.

Disguising food is a good tip, but when you first start hiding foods, try to make sure they’re of a similar texture to avoid any sudden confusion.

Let your child choose

Ask your child whadisguising foodt they want to eat, if for example they ask for chicken and chips, ask them to choose a vegetable to go with it so they’re more comfortable with what’s on their plate.

Gradually over time change the options around with one food they like, for example; if you decide to keep the chicken on the menu, let them choose from an option of vegetables, and then ask them to choose from other options such as, mash potatoes or wedges etc. This will give them a small change, but a big step forward.

Another tip is buying foods that look similar to his favourites. This may seem sneaky but it’s a great way of getting them to try new food. If they love chips, why not cut some parsnips into a French fries’ shape and roast them, or better yet, you can actually buy sweet potato fries, which taste great and looks like chips.

Do you have tips and tricks you’d like to share? Leave a comment and let us know.

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