I wouldn’t say T. is extremely fussy. He does eat a wide variety of foods, loves his fruit and will try new foods (even though 99% of the time the reaction is YUCK!). But, like many parents, we do have our challenges in trying to get him to eat the right things.
These are just a few ideas that I try to live by. They are just a guide as to what works in our house.
1. The most obvious – Cook with your child. Introduce them to new ingredients as you are cooking. Children are much more likely to eat something that they have helped prepare. Not to mention the self esteem boost that comes from watching others consume the foods they have cooked.
2. Make the most of every mouthful – ultimately you have the control over what goes into your (young) child’s mouth. Where you can, add grated veges to dinners, cook fruit muffins instead of chocolate ones, make savoury muffins for lunches and afternoon snacks.
3. Place small amounts of new foods on your child’s plate along with foods they are familiar with and enjoy. Encourage them to just taste the food. Try not to pressure them to eat the whole lot – a taste is a success!
4. Children need to be offered a new food at least 10 times before their palate begins to enjoy it so don’t give up. Keep offering them the foods and encouraging just a taste.
5. Give choices – offer a choice of 2 new foods so you child has some control over what they are eating eg a piece of broccoli and a piece of tomato on the plate – ask them which they would like to try and take the other away.
6. Use a reward system / star chart for trying new foods. Choose a reward that isn’t food related like going to the park or playing a favourite game.
7. Be a good role model and make healthy food choices yourself.
8. Eat meals together as a family so your children see you eating the same food as them.
9. Try offering foods in different ways eg shapes, pictures on the plate eg Grape and Cucumber Wands
10. Take the pressure off – both yourself and your child. Don’t make mealtimes a battleground.