First of all, I would like to say a big thank you to Louise for guest posting today. This article is so awesome and very helpful to me. My two children have recently started being quite fussy so I will be taking note of some of the tips here! Enjoy :)
Four Ways to Curb Fussy Eating
by Louise Blake
Image by Poppy Thomas-Hill
The last time I spent a weekend with my young nieces, I was horrified to see what the youngest one would eat, or rather, what she wouldn’t eat! Anything green or red was out (unless it was tomato sauce), and the only colour of food she seemed to eat was beige.
Biscuits, bread, porridge, crisps, chips, anything with a batter on it, pasta, cereal with milk, bananas at a push – all in the colour range from golden yellow to oatmeal. And absolutely nothing else, otherwise a total tantrum would ensue.
In contrast, the older niece at seven years old is happy to try anything, and has quite a sophisticated palate, so it’s hard for my sister to know where she has gone wrong with the two of them. Is it really just a question of taste?
Image by Bruce Tuton
Faddy eating is no stranger to UK dinner tables. Research by the University College London has found that the top eight most refused foods by children aged 4 – 5 years old were leeks, cabbage, sweet pepper, onion, avocado, melon, cottage cheese and liver.
According to the Royal College of the Psychiatrists, a third of kids under five will start to demonstrate selective eating and become fussy. This could simply be due to a developmental stage where they are testing their boundaries and seeing what reaction they get from their parents.
So with all this medical evidence, why do we worry so much? Here are some great tips to minimise your risk of acquiring a fussy eater!
1. Start introducing varied food – early!As soon as weaning has been established, start to introduce as many new food types as possible and that includes varying the textures, smells and tastes. If given a varied diet early on in life, kids will be much more receptive to new foods later on in their development; according to research, after the age of two, only 4% of brand new food is readily accepted.
2. The Small AppetiteSome children eat a repetitive diet – yogurt, fruit, bread, pasta only. It can be frustrating to tempt them with new foods only to be met with point blank refusal, but limited diets are not bad for children per se.
If they like fruit, try to blend it with milk to get some dairy into their diet, or if they love to eat bread, introduce it toasted for a change and sneak on some butter or jam if you can.
Young children only have small bellies – they drink juice and have snacks throughout the day, so don’t worry if their intake seems very low. They would tell you if they were hungry!
Image by slightly everything
3. The Social ElementIt’s important that children feel comfortable and relaxed when eating meals, so try to focus on what they do eat, rather than what they don’t. Instead, try to instil the feeling of a mealtime as a fun place, where people stop for a moment in the busy day and get together, and where people talk to each other.
Allow your child to be in the kitchen when you are preparing the dinner, and if they are old enough, help mix ingredients and put the dishes together. This educates them in the art of cooking and makes eating fun and interesting.
4. Avoid Junk FoodIn a media-saturated world it can be hard to stop your children from seeing adverts for junk food. To avoid your children seeing sweets, crisps and biscuits as desirable, absolutely necessary things, try not to associate these foods with rewards for good behaviour.
If your child eats well, why not try a stickers for kids system? They get a little star on a chart to indicate they have tried something new. Better still, design your own stickers with your child. A good idea is to get them to draw a picture of the new food they've tried, making it a lasting memory.
Seeing this chart fill up is far more permanent than a chocolate bar and they can chart their own progress.
When my niece visits me, I do not give her constant rounds of sweets and she doesn’t really miss it. Children are creatures of habit so make sure the ones you teach are good for them.
What other ways do you / would you use to get around the fussy eating problem?
Bio : Louise Blake is an excited first time mum to be, and spends most of her free time nesting and getting the nursery ready! She's a huge animal lover, and when not out taking her dog for nice long walks loves to play with her two nieces.
Thank you again, Louise. That was really interesting!