Tips for parents of fussy eaters

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Maureen Dettre
(Australian Associated Press)

 

While fussy eating is part of normal childhood development, there are some suggestions parents can try to ensure it does not become a habit.

PUREED FOOD IS OPTIONAL

  • Introduce textured and finger foods to children when they start eating solids like bite-size pieces of soft fruit and vegetables. Or skip pureed food altogether. Omitting or quickly moving on from it will help a child’s development.

NEVER MASK FALVOURS

  • Introduce your child to a good variety of flavours, and don’t combine flavours. Avoid making savoury, spicy or aromatic food more appealing by adding sweetness because then a child will prefer sweet flavours.
  • Ensure your child is eating similar flavours to the rest of the family.

AVOID NEGATIVITY

  • Never force your child to eat food they reject. The “just take one more bite” approach can lead to food aversion.
  • Don’t describe food as “healthy/unhealthy” or “good/bad” or use food as a reward. Saying: “if you eat your vegetables you can have dessert” demonises one food while it puts another food on a pedestal.

NEW EXPERIENCES ARE KEY

  • Regularly introduce your child to new foods, flavours and textures. Even if they refuse to eat their portion, they might eventually decide to try those new foods.

INTERVENE EARLY

  • Never assume your child will grow out of fussy eating. If it’s clearly a problem as soon as they start solid foods, consult a professional to assess for sensory or swallowing issues.

SOURCE: Dr Jennifer Cohen from the University of NSW

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