The dreaded fussy phase

Mashed

Is it fussy eating season?

Every second parent I come across seems to be having a battle with a toddler that has developed an attitude of their own when it comes to eating.  The once accepting and eager eater, now flat out refuses foods offered – lip clamping, spitting out and lots of grizzling.  Here are some of the (tried and tested) tactics we found helpful to get our trying toddler through the fussy phase.

  • Make meal time fun.  All smiles, do not show frustration at the refusal
  • Eat together as a family, so they see you eat, offering food from your plates, off your cutlery, rather than trying to get them to eat by himself.
  • Tried food in different ways – mashed vegetables with grated cheese on top, even though he had already progressed past the mashed phase.  Or grated vegetables in mince or quiche instead of chunks.  Vegetable soup.  Grated vegetables into a tomato sauce with pasta. Grated vegetables with cottage or cream cheese in sandwiches, scones.
  • Come up with different names for foods they ‘don’t like’. Eg ‘little green trees’ for broccoli, or ‘monster food’ for silver beet.
  • Keep offering foods – just because they refuse it one day, doesn’t mean they will the next (or maybe the next one after the next one after…..)
  • Made sure they don’t have too many snacks, or snacks too close to meal times.  As they begin to realize how to ask for food, it can be easy to have them grazing all day.
  • The snacks they do have, ensure you ustalise this as an opportunity for one of their 5 a day.
  • Do not reward them – ‘if you eat this then you get that’.  This makes the food seem like a chore, it fixes negative connotations with having to eat it.
  • Don’t give up before you begin – ie ‘I really don’t think he will eat this and if he doesn’t, he can have this instead’.  Don’t offer them an alternative straight away, or they will always default.  Children wont starve themselves.
  • Get them up on a chair so that they are at a height to see you preparing the food.
  • Set boundaries around eating time – eating at the table, no getting down until everyone is finished, no toys at the table…

And most of all, persevere.  It is a phase, and it will pass, but it is an opportunity to create good habits (and prevent further battles) for the future.