Fussy Eating is one of is the most common feeding issues parents come to us with
in our paediatric clinic. Although it may sound like a small feeding issue, it can cause
a lot of stress and trauma to families including the fussy eater themselves.
It can vary for a child avoiding 1 food to a child only eating 5 foods in total. This can
lead to faltering growth, nutritional deficiencies, developmental delay and problems
with overall health.
It can occur at any age however typically it starts around the age of 2-3 years old
and they use it as a way of exploring their environment and asserting their
independence. This usually a temporary stage and they will grow out of it as they get
older and interact more with their peers.
However there are some things parents can do to get through this time and what
sometime feels like a never ending battle.
1. Parents provide child decides - Your role as parent to decide what food and when
to offer it, but the child decides whether or not to eat and how much they’ll eat. This
is known as the division of responsibility.
2. Keep calm at meal times - it is important for children to associate meal times with
calm and happiness not stress.
3. Encourage family meals - siblings and parents make excellent role models for
children particularly when it comes to food.
4. Encourage messy play - some children have issues with textures of food. Messy
play can help them become accustomed to these textures in a fun way.
5. Get them involved in cooking - helping make the meals helps children understand
what they are eating and gives a sense of accomplishment.
6. Continue to provide avoided food - encourage with food that is avoided on a side
plate even if they do not eat it, they may touch it or smell it this is positive! Be patient
7. Reduce milk and snacks - this can reduce appetite at meal times and increase
chances of meal refusal.
8. Serve a new food with a familiar food - this makes the new food less scary for the
9. It won't last forever! It is usually a phase and things will get better.