Can Fussy Eating Be Prevented And Avoided?

If food is a great joy in your life you probably can’t imagine being the parent of a fussy eating child. 

If food is a great joy in your life you probably can’t imagine being the parent of a fussy eating child. It just wouldn’t make any sense, right?  

Perhaps you look forward to sharing your love of food and cooking with your future children and the idea of any of them being picky eaters just does not sit well with you.  

For this reason, you might be wondering if it is possible to prevent or avoid fussy eating completely? You’ve watched other parents in the throws of it and it really is not for you. You are ready to do whatever it takes to ensure that fussy eating is not a daily reality for your little family.  

When one or more of your children is a fussy eater it brings with it a huge amount of stress. Family meals and anything that remotely concerns food is overshadowed by an air of frustration. The spotlight tends to be on one person’s palate and that can breed resentment amongst other members of the family as well as taking the joy of eating away from you as a parent.  

Food can become something that you associate with anxiety and conflict and that is a very difficult reality because food is a daily given. So where does it all go wrong? How does a child come to be a fussy eater? Is it due to the method of weaning that was used when solids were first introduced? Is it because the parent did or did not go down the traditional route of pureés as a first food? Is it the layout of the kitchen and the way that food is being presented? Is the parent's diet to blame?

The truth is that as a parent you can do all of the “right” things and still find yourself dealing with a very fussy eater and that is a tough pill to swallow. It seems that, for many, fussy eating is something that can simply just happen.  

In some cases, it may be linked to personality and in other cases, the child may have a host of allergies that make meal times and prep a lot more complicated. This can also lead to a fussier eater as the child may resent that their diet is different.

Woman and toddler looking at pizza.
The truth is, you can do all of the “right” things and still find yourself dealing with a very fussy eater.

The good news is that fussy eating, for a lot of children, is mostly temporary. The way your child eats at aged two or three is not a prediction for how they will eat as an adult.  

There is always a good chance that time will help things greatly. As your child gets older, they may willingly choose to try a whole host of different foods when they notice that their friends are eating these things. They may come to be a lot more interested in different textures and flavours because the curiosity is on their terms.  

As a personal anecdote, my husband has recently started to eat courgettes and tomatoes after thirty years of telling himself he hated them. While fussy eating can happen regardless of your efforts, there are definitely some things that can help encourage your child to enjoy an array of different foods.

1. Children do as they see.

Normalise healthy fruits and vegetables by ensuring that you eat plenty of them in front of your child.

2. Make meal times a positive affair.

If they tend to be intense and involving lots of tears and stress then children will naturally resent that time of the day. Keep it light, praise where necessary and try to relax as much as possible.

3. Mix new foods with old favourites.

Your child is a lot more likely to try something new if it is paired with something they already enjoy and trust.

4. Don’t make treats the enemy.

Treats are fine in moderation and a healthy approach to treats can make a big difference to a child’s overall view of food. A small daily treat is nothing to be ashamed of if your child is willing to eat healthier foods throughout the day also.

5. Keep an eye on snacks.

Your child may not actually be hungry enough for the meals being served if they are constantly snacking throughout the day. Food for thought.

Tracey Quinn

Proud mum of two who got married on Don't Tell The Bride and had an accidental home-birth (loves a good story). She's passionate about breastfeeding, positive thinking & all things cosy.

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