Previously, we looked at some of the reasons behind fussy eating, and identified the four main types. Now let’s look at the best ways to tempt your adorable little food critic.
Before discussing useful strategies, it’s worth looking at common tactics that don’t work.
- Don’t use threats or ultimatums. It’s an easy habit to fall into, but blackmail at the dinner table is ineffective, and can do more harm than good. This includes time-honoured tactics such as ‘no dessert until you eat your veggies.’
- Don’t force your child to finish everything on their plate. A young child’s appetite can vary wildly from day to day, and teaching kids to eat more than they want can set up bad behaviours for later life.
- Don’t get emotional. Keep the atmosphere light and don’t let meals become a battle of wills. If your child rejects a new food, remain neutral and say ‘okay, we’ll try again another day.’
The right approach
If you feel your child fits into one of the four categories mentioned earlier, it might be worth tailoring the way you approach meal times.
> Sensory Dependent: If your child is rejecting a food because they dislike the taste or texture, no amount of persuasion will change their minds. Experiment with different cooking times – a child who hates overcooked vegetables may prefer them undercooked, for instance. If all else fails, try looking for another food that fulfils the same nutritional role.
> Behavioural Responders: Children in this category can be a challenge, as it isn’t always about the food itself. Remaining calm and keeping a light tone may be difficult in the face of a food tantrum, but getting angry is counterproductive in the long run. Try setting up a calming routine before mealtime, even something as simple as your child washing their hands.
> Preferential Eaters: For kids who are reluctant to try new foods, persistence and patience can be the best approach. Keep offering them a small portion, but don’t apply pressure – let it become familiar. Remember, it can take more than a dozen tries before a child will accept a new food. Letting your kids help out in the kitchen can be useful here: kids are more likely to try out food they’ve helped prepare.
> General Perfectionists: Well, these kids know what they want, and it may just be a matter of finding a compromise. If their whims are simple and easily managed – using a separator plate to keep foods from touching, for instance – then there’s little harm in playing along. Don’t worry: this kind of fussiness rarely lasts beyond childhood.
Don’t be afraid to try out all of the above strategies, whatever kind of fussy eater your child is. And be creative. If you can sneak some grated veggies into your bolognese, go for it. If it works, it works!
Compliment your balanced diet
With all the will in the world, you’re not going to win every day, and whilst food is undoubtedly the best source, supplements can help support intake of nutrients.
Pentavite Multivitamin + Iron Kids Powder supports the healthy growth and development of your children. Along with iron to support energy levels and blood health, Pentavite Multivitamin + Iron contains 17 different vitamins and supports healthy immune system function.
The powder dissolves easily into food or drink, and its delicious natural apple and blackcurrant flavour should win over the fussiest eater.
Always read the label. Follow the directions for use. Vitamins and mineral supplements should not replace a balanced diet.