Do you have a Fussy Eater?


Fussy eating can be frustrating for parents. A child is a ‘fussy’ eater when they refuse to try new foods or will only eat certain foods. Please know fussy eating is common – up to 50% of children will have fussy eating tendencies at some point.

Why does it happen? At around age 2 years mental development increases and children are gaining independence – shown through wanting choice in their food or being skeptical of foods they do not recognise. Their growth rate also slows so their hunger levels can drop.

‘The Division of Responsibility’ is considered the Gold Standard of Feeding Children. It is an approach authored by Dietitian and Psychotherapist Ellyn Satter. If this is implemented consistently mealtimes will be much more enjoyable for everyone!

Children are born knowing how much they need to eat to grow. If they do not eat well at one meal it means they will be hungry for the next and eat well then. Parents can be relieved to know it is not their job to make their child eat. It is their job to provide a nutritious meal and the child can decide whether to accept or decline.

What do I offer? Each meal and snack should have a grainy food, a protein or dairy food plus a fruit or vegetable. This ensures your child is getting the range of nutrients they need to grow.

Where do I offer? Meals and snacks should be eaten at the table with no distractions (yes – this means no TV, phones or ipads). Eating meals with the family where children see their parents eating vegetables is one of the best ways to get them to try new foods. Being a good role model is particularly important!

When do I offer? A predictable meal schedule is essential for children. This takes away internal stress they may have about when they will next get food and helps to develop their appetite regulation skills. This means having set mealtimes at least 2-3 hours apart with no grazing in between. For example:

Time

7.30am

9.30am

12.30pm

3pm

5.30pm

7.30pm

Meal/Snack

Breakfast

Morning Snack

Lunch

Afternoon Snack

Dinner

(Optional pre bed snack)