Fussy Eating: How can you get your child to eat and try new foods? 

fussy eaters, picky eaters, how to get child to try new foods, how to get child to eat vegetables

Fussy eating in children can be a real source of frustration and worry for parents.

The sight of a plate full of untouched food can be disheartening, and the constant battle to get your child to eat a balanced meal can be exhausting.

However, understanding why children are fussy eaters and implementing strategies to encourage them to try new foods can make mealtime a more pleasant experience for everyone involved.

How can you help a fussy eater try new foods?

One of the fundamental principles in dealing with fussy eating is recognising the importance of exposure to a variety of foods.

Children are naturally cautious about trying new foods, especially those with unfamiliar textures, colours, or flavours. However, repeated exposure can help them become more comfortable with these foods over time.

This means offering a wide range of foods regularly, even if your child initially rejects them.

Research has shown that it can take up to 30 exposures for some children to accept a new food, so patience is key.

It might be that you offer new foods alongside a food you know they are happy to eat. That way you can be safe in the knowledge that there is something they will eat.

Eating together as a family can also have a positive impact on a child’s eating habits.

When children see their parents and siblings enjoying a variety of foods, they are more likely to mimic this behaviour.

Additionally, family meals provide an opportunity for children to learn about different foods and develop healthy eating habits.

Make mealtimes enjoyable by engaging in conversation and creating a relaxed atmosphere free from pressure.

Another effective strategy is to involve children in the food preparation process.

Allowing them to participate in activities such as washing, peeling, and chopping vegetables can increase their interest in trying new foods.

Encourage them to explore different ingredients and textures, even if it means getting a little messy.

Remember, the goal is not necessarily for them to eat the food they are preparing but rather to become more comfortable with it.

Playing with food can also be a useful tactic in overcoming fussy eating. Allowing children to touch, smell, and explore different foods without the expectation of eating them can help desensitise them to unfamiliar textures and flavours.

Get creative with food by arranging it into fun shapes or encouraging imaginative play with food items.

The key is to make the experience enjoyable and stress-free.

In addition to these strategies, it’s essential to be patient and persistent when dealing with fussy eating (even if it can feel frustrating at times!).

Avoid power struggles or using food as a reward or punishment, as this can create negative associations with mealtimes. Instead, focus on creating a positive eating environment and celebrating small victories along the way.

Remember that every child is unique, and what works for one may not work for another.

Be open to trying different approaches and be flexible in your approach to mealtimes. Above all, trust that your child will eventually develop healthy eating habits with time and encouragement.

Picky eating in children is a common challenge that many parents face. If you would like support with your child’s fussy eating check out our paediatric dietitian led fussy eating course. The course is full of strategies and tips to help you support your child to try, and enjoy, new foods (even vegetables!).

Guide to Fussy Eating:

fussy eating course

In this easy-to-follow course, Paediatric Dietitian Emma Shafqat, shares practicable tips and techniques to help you understand your child’s fussy eating and help them eat and enjoy a wider variety of foods.