Oh yes, we all know the drill……the stress and worry when our little one doesn’t eat what at we put in front of them.
Thats aside from the frustration at the fact that you have just spent the time and money preparing the meal!
Did you know that…
- The trait of being a picky eater dates back to our “caveman days”.
- This is a survival mechanism to help children (and even adults) stay away from poisonous plants which often taste sour or bitter.
- This is the reason why children do not like fruits and vegetables so much and prefer sweeter food.
- Children experience neophobia or the fear of new food, peaking between 2-6 years of age.
- So-called food jags happen wherein they will only eat one or two foods that they like and refuse to eat anything else.
- Respect your child’s appetite whether or not they have one (I know they can feel tricky at times!).
- Never force your child to eat nor bribe them into eating especially when they hungry.
- This could lead to a power struggle over food.
- Your child might even develop an association between meal time and anxiety and frustration.
- Stick to a routine.
- As much as possible, serve meals and snacks at about the same time everyday.
- Offer water in between meals so as not to decrease his appetite when meal time comes.
- Be patient with new food.
- Repeated exposure to new food can help lessen to child’s tendency to become picky.
- Eating new food together with the child encourages them to try it out, too.
- Make eating fun.
- One of the most common tips mums do is to cut vegetables into different shapes using cookie cutters.
- Children love dips , try a hummus or mashed avocado with vegetables like carrots, cucumbers, and broccoli.
- Ask for your child’s help.
- Bring your child along to the grocery and let him help you pick out the fruits and vegetables and other healthy food.
- Get them involved in the food prep and cooking, of course, it has to be a safe task – little kids love to help stirring!
Other Helpful and Creative Tips from Mums with Fussy-Eating Children
- “If mealtimes are becoming a misery or a battle ground then change the scene. Have tea in a tent or at a small table on tiny chairs with teddies attending.” – Jane, Newcastle
- “Use exciting names for foods e.g. we call chicken in sauce ‘sticky chicken’ or soup ‘surprise soup’ or green beans ‘squeaky beans’ (‘can you hear them?’) and ham up the name… We also pretend we are dinosaurs eating trees when we eat broccoli – adds a bit of fun to the meal!” – Geri, Haringey
|WHAT TO SAY||WHAT NOT TO SAY|
|Point out the sensory quality of the food – “The kiwi fruit is sweet like strawberry.”||“Eat that for me.”|
|“Does your stomach tell you you’re full?” – helps prevent overeating||“If you don’t eat that, I will be mad.”|
|“Which food is your favorite?”||“You are such a big girl; you finished all your peas.|
|“Everyone likes different foods, don’t they?”||“Look at your sister, she has eaten all her bananas.”|
|“We can try these vegetables again another time. Next time would you like them raw instead of cooked?”||“Stop crying and I will give you a cookie.”|
|“No dessert until you eat your vegetables.”|
Recipes for Fussy-Eating Children
Toddler Hidden Veg Sauce (so tasty for the whole family!)
- 1 leek, chopped roughly
- 2 zuchinni, chopped into chunks
- 1 red or yellow pepper, coarsely chopped
- a handful of mushrooms, chopped
- 1 small eggplant, chopped into chunks
- 2 carrots, peeled and chopped into chunks
- 1 clove of garlic, crushed
- 2 tins of diced tomatoes
- sprinkle of dried oregano
- sprinkle of pepper
- In a little tasteless coconut oil, add all the vegetables and garlic and soften gently for about 10 minutes.
- Add the tins of tomatoes and sprinkle on the herbs, pepper and sugar. Stir to combine, then cover and simmer for about 30-45 minutes.
- Once all the vegetables are completely soft, transfer the mixture to a blender – or use a handheld blender – and blitz it until moderately smooth.
- The recipe makes a large volume of sauce – but you’ll get through it as it’s very versatile.
Suitable for freezing
Variation: Use any vegetables you have.
Serve with a gluten free or wholemeal pasta.
- 150g grated carrots
- 2 medium eggs
- 100g coconut sugar (high in minerals for growth and development)
- 5 tbsp sunflower oil
- 100g wholemeal spelt flour (much easier to digest than wheat)
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 100g raisins (optional)
- Put muffin cases into a muffin pan.
- Heat oven to 190 C/gas 5.
- Mix eggs and sugar, beat in oil.
- Add dry ingredients and mix.
- Spoon into muffin cases, bake for 15-20 mins until firm to the touch and golden brown.
Suitable for freezing.
On a final note, persevere….even if you feel like the ‘mission is futile’, its not, the little steps you take now help your children create healthy eating habits for life.
Wishing you health, happiness and stress-free meal times!