Fussy eating is when a child refuses food often or eat the same food over and over again.
Fussing eating - what causes it? Well, it is completely normal for toddlers and young children (usually around the preschool years) to refuse to eat sometimes or even taste new foods.
In fact, as a rule of thumb, if your child is active and gaining weight and seems well and healthy, you shouldn't overly worry about what your child eats in a day or over each mealtime but what they eat over the course of a week instead.
The many causes of fussy eating usually include:
- Showing independence.
- Drinking too many fluids.
- Eating too many snacks in between meals.
- Recovering from an illness or currently feeling unwell.
As well as early feeding difficulties and late introduction of lumpy foods during the weaning process, genetics can also be a contributing factor for your child's reluctance to eat at mealtimes.
That's right, genetics may play a part in why your children are typically unwilling to try new foods according to a head researcher at the Monell Chemical Sense Center in Philadelphia.
Marcia Pelchat, Ph.D., who specializes in food preferences in humans, argues that if you have parents who don't really like to try anything new, you will also be exposed to fewer foods. While those who try new foods more regularly as a child will most likely try unfamiliar foods in the future.
With that being said, your child's relationship with food will develop by watching and learning from us, their parents. It is important to sit down as a family and enjoy meals together without distractions.
As they say, what monkey see, monkey do.
It can take up to ten tries before your child will accept new food so it is important to remain calm and consistent when approaching your child's fussy eating. After thirty minutes at mealtimes, accept that is all your child is going to eat by taking away any uneaten food without passing any remarks and try to ignore fussy behaviour.
To help promote your child to eat well:
- Give them small portions.
- Be patient, give them plenty of time to eat.
- Be firm but do not force them to eat.
- Offer a wide variety of foods including plenty of carbohydrates, protein, dairy, fruit and vegetables at mealtimes.
- Remove distractions such as TV and technology.
- Do not use treats as a reward for eating meals.
- Keep drinks until after they have eaten.
- Involve them with preparation and meal plans.
- Praise them for eating, even if they only eat a little.
- Change how you serve meals by making it more appealing.
- Enjoy dinner as a family, eat with your child as often as possible.
- Don't wait until your child is too hungry or tired to eat.
While fussy eating is a normal part of growing up it can be very worrying for parents, if it continues, ask your public health nurse, GP or GP practise nurse for tips and advice.