The pickiest of eaters

Is getting your child to eat a constant challenge? Many parents find the “picky eating” stage a real test on their sanity and will become extremely troubled by their toddlers refusal to eat. If you’re a parent of a picky eater – don’t worry, your kids normal! Next time your toddler shouts “don’t want it” after you’ve been coaxing them to eat for the last hour – walk away! The more of a fuss you make the more finicky your pint sized tyrant can become.  Try not to comment when they turn up their noses or make a face. Don’t offer them food rewards, don’t become a short-order cook and don’t try and sneak vegetables into sauces – I for one have been guilty of doing all of the above at one stage or another!


Experts advise that you make your kid a gourmet as early as possible! Studies show that when it comes to kids ‘familiar’ equals ‘delicious’. Introducing your child to as many different foods as possible between the ages of 4 months and 2 years is the way to go. That way when the pickiness of toddler-hood sets in, they are retracting from a larger repertoire!

Toddlers have a real need for control therefore providing food options so they can make their own decisions is crucial. Meals should contain at least 4 choices and try to include a dip of some sort. Toddlers loves dipping!  Offer them finger foods and allow them to touch their food and even make a mess at mealtimes. Some parents think that not letting kids feed themselves is for the best, but it takes away control that does rightfully belong to kids at this age. They need to decide whether to eat, what they will eat, and how much to eat — this is way they’ll learn to realise when they’re hungry and when they’re full.

Adding an element of fun to meals and snacks can help immensely! Use shapes to make your food look appealing. Cut out sandwiches with a cookie cutter. Arrange their food into funny faces and take more time with the presentation of their meals! Think about the containers you use to serve food in, it can make the simplest of snacks a little more exciting. Children eat with their eyes – just like us! So serve them colourful food and get creative. The pay-off of watching your tot enjoy a healthy meal will be worth the effort.

Like everything relating to kids routine seems to be the key! Establish meal and snack times and try to stick to them. Present food to your toddler at these times but bear in mind they might not take every opportunity to eat. However if you have set out a meal pattern and your tot does decides to skip a meal it will be reassuring for them to know that another one will be coming. Allowing a child to skip a meal can be disconcerting but kids should be allowed to respond to their own hunger cues. Typically “picky eaters” will not starve themselves however  overtime they could become malnourished. If you are worried that your child’s  “picky eating’ is more serious then it’s important to make sure their reluctance to eat isn’t psychological or they present symptoms of a  resistant eater  – if your child presents any of these symptoms then you should seek professional guidance.

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About the author:

Jude looks after phil&teds social media and community.She has a BA in Journalism and traveled to New Zealand on a whim after a stint in Central America- and never left! She's Irish by birth, Kiwi by choice! Jude has been a phil&teds head for nearly two years now. She's the one answering all your questions online! If she could live her life through the medium of interpretative dance she would, but until that day a good book and a cup of coffee will do! If you would like to contribute to our blog or have any questions for her, then pop an email through to [email protected]

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