Some mums find a huge challenge when it is their kid’s meal time. From screaming, to crying, to throwing tantrums and food all over the place. If you are one of those mums we would like to tell you two things. One, you are not alone. Most new mums deal with this. And two, we got a few tricks up our sleeves that might help you deal with your little fussy eater.
Is being a fussy eater the same as being a picky eater?
First of all, it is important for you as a mum to know that these two are not the same. Most mums, especially new mums, believe that being a picky eater is the same as being a fussy one. However, being a picky eater means that the child is hesitant to try new foods. Perhaps it is because of the smell or the looks. And sometimes it is just indirect peer pressure. Also, kids associate food with getting sick. So, it can be their belief that a certain kind of food will make them sick. In other words, picky eaters are very selective about what they eat.
There are many reasons why a child can be a picky eater. But whatever the reasons are, the best approach to take here is being calm and persuasive. Do not force your child to eat something they don’t want to. Simply, and calmly, encourage them to try it once. If they really don’t like it then that’s the end of it. Stick to the “don’t knock it before you try it” approach and gradually this will be solved.
How are fussy eaters different?
On the other hand, fussy eaters can be more challenging. A fussy eater is a child who is perfectly happy eating something one day. And rejecting it aggressively the next. We believe that most mums struggled with such a situation. Most mums fear that this unexpected rejection of food can cause their children’s growth and nutrition. We recommend not looking at one meal to assess whether your child eats well or not. But rather take an overall look at how they were eating during the week. This will give you a better idea of how healthy your child’s eating habits are.
Having said that, you still need to try to overcome this fussy eating situation. And we have some tips to help you out.
Tips to deal with fussy eaters
1| Do not give in
When children do not eat well over lunch or dinner, we tend to give them snacks. And sometimes those snacks are chips, chocolates, or candies. Children may refuse to eat their meals just to make you feel sorry and give them those sugary treats. So, make sure to stand your ground. And if necessary, give them less snacks. This way when it is dinner time, they will be hungry and eat their meals without complaining.
2| Reinforce good behaviors
Children respond greatly to rewards. But in this case, don’t use food as a reward. Because if you do, they will associate sweets with good, and veggies with bad for example. Rather than food, reward your children with a movie night or going to the park. This will make them more encouraged to finish their foods. Use clear sentences such as “If you finish your meal, we will watch your favorite movie”. This will work like magic!
3| Make sure they like the food
In some situations, fussy eaters can be picky eaters. They might not like the taste or the smell, even if they tried it. In this case, your child is deciding what foods they like and what they don’t. And this is completely normal. Even us adults have lists of foods that we would not like to eat. So, use this to build up your knowledge about what your kids like and what they don’t. Keep trying new recipes and food ideas to get to a point where they cannot resist eating what you serve them.
4| Let them help in cooking
Including children in cooking can reflect greatly on their appetite. Ask them to help you around depending on their age. If they are old enough, they can cut the veggies, or stir the pot. As for younger children and toddlers, they can help you garnish the plates.
5| Be firm
As we mentioned before, fussy eaters refuse food that they used to eat happily. So, sometimes you need to put your foot down and be firm. In some cases, children refuse to eat simply for no reason. And being firm in such cases helps them become better disciplined.
6| Presentation is key
Some kids like to eat meals that are in the shape of a bunny or a butterfly. We know this is extra work, but this way your little one will get the nutrition he or she needs. Also, there are plenty of easy ideas to make less work for you. Like sandwich cutters to make cute looking sandwiches. Or using cookie cutters to cut their chicken or shape their mashed potatoes.
7| Be a role model for your kids
We know that our kids usually mirror our actions. They even mirror our likes and dislikes. So, encourage them to eat through expressing how much you like this dish. You can ask for help from another adult like an aunt or a grandpa. This will encourage your child to eat, just like adults!
Finally, we advise you to be patient and take things slow. Remember, your child is just starting to get to know foods and what they like and dislike. So be patient, and gradually they will get over this phase.