Top Tips For Fussy Eaters
We all go through picky food days. But when it’s day after day, problems can set in and it can get so frustrating for both parent and child. Picky eating is worrying for the parent and can affect the child’s behaviour, sleep and mood.
If it’s something that has started after a tummy bug, the bug could be lingering around. Give the child time to get better. If you’re unsure always check with your GP. When everything else looks fine and you feel you have exhausted every angle. Wipe the slate clean and give my tips a try.
- Set meals.Try to have set meal times. Three meals a day and 2 snacks. Avoid grazing throughout the day.
- Turn off any distractions. I put away my own phone at meal times. (As hard as it is at times, it’s the only way to get some undivided attention). Do a countdown beforehand like “Dinner is going to be in 10 minutes, guys. I’m going to switch off the telly. ” Little guys love to know what’s coming next.
- Family time. Try to sit down as a family as often as you can (I know this can be an impossible task sometimes) but when you can, do it, and try to serve the same meal to everyone if only to save the “cook’s” sanity.
- Timing. Make sure you have enough time for meals. Don’t rush them. That way it’s enjoyable for everyone. (Imaging having a coffee in a coffee shop and the waitress wiping the table hurrying you along? She could end up wearing the coffee, to be honest) It’s the same for kids. Allow 25 minutes or so for meals. But don’t drag it out either.
- Praise. But avoid using sugary treats as a reward. Reward the kids with your time. A game or a trip to the park is perfect.
- Limit juice. Try not to let the child fill up on juice or milk throughout the day. Milk is meant to be enjoyed with a meal, not be the meal. Ideally, a toddler should drink around 2 cups of milk a day once they’ve turned two. Offer water instead of juice when possible.
- No fuss. Try not to make a fuss (one fussy person at the table is enough) stay calm, but be matter-of-fact about it: say things like “We eat our dinner so that we have plenty of energy to play”! Our food helps us grow.
- Language. Try not to use phrases like “don’t leave the table until you’re finished”. Phases like, “Good boy/girl, stay at the table, you’re doing a great job” work better!
- Portions. Offer small portions and a varied diet. Try your best to avoid plain foods (as hard as it is.) Put the full meal on the plate. My 3-year-old hates red peppers. I still put them in lasagne. I mix them in so she can’t see them. Be sneaky and hide the veggies when you can! Try to introduce new flavours. There will always be some food kids just don’t have a taste for. Accept that. Don’t force them. Encourage all the time.
- Ready steady cook! Get the kids cooking. Pick out recipes together! Ok they’re not guaranteed to eat them, but they will give it their best shot. It will be a bit of bonding time if nothing else.
Keep calm, don’t give up! Tomorrow is another day…
Here are two recipes from One Yummy Mummy: Family Food Made Easy by Jolene Cox. Published by Orpen Press, price €20.00 and is available now from all good bookshops and online at www.orpenpress.com