Handling a fussy eater

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Here are some tips from Baby Center:

It's perfectly normal for young children to suddenly decide they will only eat a few foods and refuse everything else - even foods they loved yesterday. They may eat these same few foods over and over again at every meal, while turning up their noses at anything new. Children like things to be familiar, whether it's their bedtime routine or their cheese sandwich, so many children won't try new foods until they've been exposed to them several times.

Picky eating can also be a child's way of exerting his independence ("You can't make me eat that") and may have less to do with the actual food than his need to push the limits of your authority and to assert some control over his life. This is why pressuring a child to eat often backfires. Finally, it may seem like your toddler cannot sit still long enough to eat very much at one sitting because of his short attention span. But children are generally good at getting what they need, even if it doesn't seem like much to you.

Here are some more specific tips on how to handle a picky eater:

• Provide a variety of good foods for your child to eat at each meal.
Keep in mind that it takes multiple exposures to a new food for a child to see it as familiar and OK to try. So, be patient. When you do offer a new food, simply place it on the dinner table with everything else, and don't make a big fuss about it. Eventually, after he's seen you eat the food a few times, he may feel more open to trying it himself.


• Limit the options at mealtimes.
"If you say, 'It's dinnertime. What do you want to eat?' your child will probably choose something familiar to him, and he'll seem like a picky eater," says Hudson. "However, if you say, 'Here's dinner,' he'll choose from among the foods you're offering." Of course, you can't offer an entire meal of unfamiliar foods because your child simply won't eat them. Instead, offer a meal that includes at least one thing you know your child likes.


• When introducing new foods, offer just one or two, and present them in small quantities.
If by some miracle your child is willing to try a new food, give him just a taste before putting a whole serving on his plate. This way he won't feel overwhelmed - and it won't seem like a waste of food to you.


• Some children's palates are more sensitive than others.
They simply won't like the texture, colour, or taste of some foods. This is why a child will often claim to dislike a food he has never even tried. Likewise, some children may have an aversion to a food because it reminds them of a time when they were sick or has some other negative association. If your child complains that a particular food will make him ill, stop offering that food for a while. You can always try again when your child is a little older.


• Whenever possible, let your child be involved in food decisions.
This includes shopping or making his lunch. This will give him a sense of control over his diet, and he'll be more likely to eat something that he's chosen for himself. (This works best if you let your child choose from a small selection of healthy foods you've already picked out!)
As your child's world expands and he begins attending playgroup or nursery, his taste in foods might broaden as well. When he sees his friends eating new and different kinds of food, it might inspire him to eat new things, too.


Your child has an innate sense of how much food his body needs to grow and be healthy, and it's his job to decide what he's going to eat. The best thing you can do is to provide a wide variety of healthy foods in a positive, relaxed environment so that mealtimes will be enjoyable for everyone involved.

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