Tips for parents of fussy eaters

Maureen Dettre
(Australian Associated Press)

 

While fussy eating is part of normal childhood development, there are some suggestions parents can try to ensure it does not become a habit.

PUREED FOOD IS OPTIONAL

  • Introduce textured and finger foods to children when they start eating solids like bite-size pieces of soft fruit and vegetables. Or skip pureed food altogether. Omitting or quickly moving on from it will help a child’s development.

NEVER MASK FALVOURS

  • Introduce your child to a good variety of flavours, and don’t combine flavours. Avoid making savoury, spicy or aromatic food more appealing by adding sweetness because then a child will prefer sweet flavours.
  • Ensure your child is eating similar flavours to the rest of the family.

AVOID NEGATIVITY

  • Never force your child to eat food they reject. The “just take one more bite” approach can lead to food aversion.
  • Don’t describe food as “healthy/unhealthy” or “good/bad” or use food as a reward. Saying: “if you eat your vegetables you can have dessert” demonises one food while it puts another food on a pedestal.

NEW EXPERIENCES ARE KEY

  • Regularly introduce your child to new foods, flavours and textures. Even if they refuse to eat their portion, they might eventually decide to try those new foods.

INTERVENE EARLY

  • Never assume your child will grow out of fussy eating. If it’s clearly a problem as soon as they start solid foods, consult a professional to assess for sensory or swallowing issues.

SOURCE: Dr Jennifer Cohen from the University of NSW

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