To tackle fussy eating, firstly, stop giving lots of attention to the fussy eating.
You get what you notice, so make a conscious effort NOT to notice what your toddler hasn’t eaten or encourage them to eat more.
Don’t call them fussy or picky eaters. Or they’ll feel that’s what they are.
Tell other people that they’re healthy eaters, they just take a bit of time getting used to new foods.
Have the attitude that it’s your job to give your toddler healthy food, and sit with them to make mealtimes nice and relaxing. And it’s their job to eat what they need to last until the next meal.
If they can’t eat it in 20 minutes, then it’s removed without a fuss.

Secondly, plan a strategy and stick to it.

  • One strategy is to give your child a ‘Micro Starter’ of 6 tiny pieces of different food that everyone in the family has to eat before the main course.
    About the size of a quarter of a pea.
    When they’ve eaten that then they get a main course they like.
    But you need to stay firm. No main course until they’ve eaten the starter.
    It gets your toddler used to different vegetables and textures in tiny amounts.
    And they’ll gradually be willing to eat new foods if you stick to it.
  • Another strategy is to give your child ONLY healthy foods. No rubbish.
    As long as the food they eat is healthy, and they have sweet things only twice a day – then that’s ok.
  • Or you cook healthy meals that the whole family can eat.
    Such as shepherd’s pie, casseroles, pasta Bolognese, omelette or fish pie.
    And you all sit down together.
    Near the end of the meal just say:  ‘Two more minutes! Just make sure you eat enough to keep you going, and then it will be the end of the meal.’
    After two minutes, no fuss, just help them get down.
    And no more food until the next meal.
    The main thing with any of these strategies is to stay consistent and firm.
    That’s where most parents go wrong. You can commiserate when your toddler wants a biscuit and can’t have it.
    And you can cuddle and comfort them when they didn’t eat, and are hungry.
    But you have to stay firm.

Finally, at the end of a meal, praise your child for trying new foods.
Give them attention for what they do eat, and ignore what they don’t. Maybe even put a list –with pictures- up in the kitchen of food they’ve tried. A toddler needs to taste food about 7 times before they’ll accept it. So keep offering it.

So the 3 tips to help you tackle fussy eating are:

  1. Stop giving lots of attention to the fussy eating.
  2. Plan a strategy and stick to it.
  3. Praise your child for trying new foods.

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If you need more than three tips on this – or you’d like to discover the secrets you need to have happy well-behaved, children – please contact me by clicking here. You can arrange a free 20-minute (no obligation) chat to find out if working with me personally (by phone, Skype or face-to-face) would help you and your family. Contact Elizabeth

child behavioural expert
The author:

Elizabeth O’Shea is a parenting specialist child behaviour expert and one of the leading parenting experts in the UK.

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