Blog Three: Monday, 15 April 2019
Written by Mandy Sacher, CEO of Wholesome Child
I hope you’ve had a great week. How did you go with trying those new tactics and recipes to introduce solids to your child? This week let’s look at fussy eaters and some strategies you can implement to encourage trying eating new foods.
I’m sure we’ve all experienced a fussy eater in one form or another whether it’s your own child, a friend’s or even an adult. Fussy eaters come in all shapes and sizes, but as a parent, I know far too well the frustrations and frazzled feeling you may experience if you have a fussy eater on your hands. Trust me, you’re not alone! In fact, the majority of families that reach out to me are struggling to increase variety in their child’s diet. And while luckily fussy eating is something most children grow out of, here are my top five tips to help you.
1. Manage your own expectations
My first tip starts with you! As a parent of a fussy eater, it’s important to define what ‘success’ will look like. Each child and family is different so mealtime goals should be set and measured uniquely to your situation. I’ve worked with families who for a child to eat two types of vegetables is success, and children where simply tasting a meatball in tomato sauce is a big win!
Let your child become hands-on in the kitchen and encourage them to touch, smell and engage with both raw and cooked food to help desensitise and familiarise them. You can do this by:
- Naming foods and asking them to put items in the shopping trolley,
- Asking them to help prepare food at mealtimes and carry dishes to the table,
- Messy play. This is a therapeutic technique for babies and children who have underlying sensory issues. Put a floor protector down and encourage your child to explore food with their fingers or a spoon. Oat dough or cooked spaghetti are ideal foods for this.
If at first you don’t succeed, try and try again! Familiarising your child with new foods won’t happen on the first day, so don’t feel disheartened if the response isn’t immediate. Simply persist, freeze what isn’t eaten and offer it up again or perhaps in a different way such as cut into shapes or cooked instead of raw. Remember, it’s important to offer new foods in a calm and comfortable environment so your child is relaxed.
4. Offer choice
Even the fussiest of eaters like to feel they have some control when it comes to food and mealtimes. Instead of becoming a short-order cook and catering to each child individually, give your fussy eater a choice between two healthy options. For example, “We can have bolognaise or lamb koftas for dinner – which would you like?” Having a variety of healthy snacks on hand is a great idea too. My kid’s favourite lunchbox snacks include my Banana Oatmeal Fingers, Root Vegetable Chips and even Apricot and Coconut Muesli Bar.
Remember while children will love praise for their efforts, don’t forget to reward yourself too! It’s important to celebrate your family’s achievements and to be gentle with yourself along the way.
If you would like more tips on how to prevent and overcome fussy eating, or are looking for healthy, family-friendly recipes (which have been designed specifically for fussy eaters!) please visit my website at www.wholesomechild.com.