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What’s The Fuss?:

Dealing With Picky Eaters
By Expert Tips
Date: September 03 2019
Editor Rating:
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The list of things to worry about regarding your child is as long as your arm. And, trust us, as the years roll by it’s only set to get longer – it comes with the territory. However, one very common thing parents are concerned about is when their toddler is a fussy eater.

However… just because it’s an issue many experience it doesn’t make it any less of a concern for you. Let’s face it, no matter how many other hundreds of thousands (millions?) of parents have lived through it, this is the first time you have. So let’s get right to the heart of picky eaters and discuss what you actually need to fret about, and what you don’t. And then, some handy tips that might just ease your mind in what feels like a daily battle to ensure your child is getting the nutrition he or she needs.

Should I be worried if…?

  • He or she refuses to eat new foods: It’s absolutely normal for toddlers to refuse to eat, indeed even try, a tiny morsel of a new food. It can take many, many attempts for a child to accept something different, especially if it’s strong tasting. The key to getting past this is that if they flatly refuse to eat something, then don’t offer it again for a few weeks. Gradually introduce new options, and after a few weeks go back to whatever it was your child refused. Just as with adults, children’s tastes change. So while they dislike it today, they could well fall in love with it in a month or two. Introduce new foods alongside ones that they are happy to eat already, making sure that the food items aren’t touching of course!  They may be more comfortable to mix a mouthful with a familiar taste. 

  • They don’t finish their meals: Well… Do you? Always, every time? The answer is almost definitely no. The key here is not to worry about how much they’ve eaten in a meal, or even in a day. Think about it over the course of a week. If your child is gaining weight, is active and appears well, then it’s pretty much a given that they’re getting enough to eat.

In short, as long as your toddler is eating a variety of food from all the major food groups (fruit and veg, starchy carbs, dairy or dairy alternatives, and proteins such as meat, fish, eggs, beans and pulses) then you can rest assured that they’re getting the nutrition that they need. It’s also worth considering the portion size that you’re giving them too as their stomachs are much smaller than ours. 

Handy hints to tempt those picky eaters

  • Kids love to copy: Sit down and eat with your child. If you’re introducing something new, eat it yourself too. Try and enjoy meals with your toddler as often as possible, as the easiest way for them to learn is to copy what you do.  Always get them to try the meal you want them to enjoy first and rather than trying to coax them to eat it, just continue to eat yours and pay as little attention to what they’re eating as possible. The more you focus your attention on their meal and how much they’re eating…or not, the more it will become an issue for the child.  

  • Give small portions: Tiny, if necessary – and always praise with terms like, ‘wow, you’ve tried the broccoli, you must feel so great with all your new energy’ or ‘I can see that you’re trying the carrots, you must be very proud of yourself.’ Even if they just nibble on a morsel it’s worth a mention but try to avoid, ‘good girl’ and ‘good boy’as praise by focusing on the food they’ve eaten instead. 

  • Don’t sweat it: If they refuse to eat, then so be it. Easier said than done, for sure – but every time you make a deal out of it you raise an issue. If your kiddo rejects the food don’t try to force it on them. Simply take it away quietly and try again another time.

  • Take your time: Your child might simply be a slow eater, so be patient.

  • Reduce snacks: 2 healthy snacks per day is more than enough. Any more and they probably won’t be hungry when they sit down for a meal.

  • Make mealtimes fun: It’s not just about the food, be sure to chat and interact so they begin to associate a plate of food with a fun occasion.

  • Don’t use food as a reward: Yes, it’s easy to give something sweet as praise, but you’re subconsciously instilling a ‘sweets are nice, vegetables are horrid’ mindset. Instead of rewarding with food, use playing a game or a nice trip out instead.

  • Change how you serve the food: For instance, cooked carrots might be a no-no, but raw grated carrot could be a completely different story.

  • Add up what they’ve eaten throughout the day:  You may find that they have eaten quite a bit throughout the day if they’re a child who likes to ‘graze’ over a few small meals rather than eating a big one with the family at the end of the day. 

As you can see, the key to picky eaters is not to make a fuss, and to mix and match where and when you offer new foods. The teams at Nido Early School know just how much of a challenge a fussy eater can be and will happily work with parents to continue their good work whilst the kids are in their care. 

They can also advise on additional methods to tempt fussy eaters if you feel like you’re all out of options. All Nido’s staff are passionate about early child development and are well aware of the responsibilities they have during your child’s early years. To see how the Nido team can help with pre-school care for your little one, visit, give them a call, or pop into one of their centres for a friendly, no-obligation chat. With an open door policy, you’ll be welcomed with open arms.

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