Having a fussy eater can be frustrating, and at times can feel like it’s driving you insane. We know what it’s like, so we’ve put together a list of tips for you to try to get your fussy eater used to food, and trying new things!
- Eat Together
One of the most important things to make sure you do if you have a fussy eater is to eat together every day. Even if you can’t all eat together for every meal, make sure they’re never alone – be there to encourage them. When you eat together don’t make any exceptions – everyone eats the same food! Seeing everybody eating and enjoying their food will eventually convince most children to try foods too.
- Lay off the snacks
You call for dinner and back comes the dreaded response: “I’m not hungry!” You clench your fists and teeth and wonder “WHY!?” It could be simple snacking that’s putting your kids off their dinner. As tempting as it is to let them graze away when they come home from school after a long day, it’s best to hold back on too many snacks if you’re finding dinners left untouched. Kids who aren’t hungry aren’t likely to try new foods.
- Make it fun!
For kids who think “grown up” food is boring, try and make it more fun! Try making a picture out of their food like a cute animal. Something that’s exciting for them to see on a plate is going to be more exciting to eat. And if they can see the effort that you’ve made, it might help convince them that they can make the effort to eat.
- Keep the long term in mind
If you’ve been struggling with a fussy child for a while, it can be frustrating and upsetting if they seem to always be refusing to try new foods. But try to keep the long term in mind. You don’t need them to eat the broccoli today; you’d actually like them to like broccoli forever – try to remember this every time you serve up a new food to try. When they refuse, don’t push it. And even if they try it and say they don’t like it – keep serving it up! This is a really interesting little study in the UK that shows how children can actually learn to like foods they once disliked. So keep serving up that kale!
- Let them play
As a child you probably heard the phrase “Don’t play with your food!” quite often. But if you’re dealing with a fussy eater, this is something you should avoid saying. When presented with a new food, it helps for kids to “play” around with it a little first, to try and get to know it. This could include poking, squishing, squashing, tearing, cutting or smelling – however they play, let them! This will help them get used to the food on their own terms first. Once they’ve had a little play, gently suggest tasting it, and see what happens!
- Get them in the kitchen
According to acclaimed chef Jamie Oliver, kids who cook eat better. And he’s right. Cooking in the kitchen with mum and dad is another way that you can help your kids discover food. Seeing foods go from raw to ready can convince children to try them. This is a great way to introduce new ingredients and foods to kids and to help them get familiar before it lands on their plate.
- Give them good options
It’s not bad to give your kids options, but give them the opportunity to make good choices. Let them help decide what goes on the menu when you plan your meals, and take it as an opportunity to explain the importance of a balanced and healthful diet. When it comes to snack-time, give them a choice between two nutritious options, like an apple or an orange. Leave unhealthy foods out of the mix when it comes to meals and snacks, and save them for treat time only.
- Bribe them with a healthy treat!
Sometimes the best ways to get your kids to eat new and nutritious foods is with a classic bribe. But don’t promise anything that will undo all of your hard work with the good stuff. Fangks is a great option for parents looking for a tasty treat for kids that won’t do their bodies or teeth any harm. A naturally sweetened drink mix, that’s sugar free and delicious is the perfect after dinner – or any time – treat (or bribe!) for fab and fussy eaters alike!
Have you had to deal with a fussy eater? How did you get through the rough patch? It’s something most parents have experienced, so share your tips in the comments below!