Children are often very fussy about what they eat. They can also go through phases of liking certain foods, then disliking them. This can make it very challenging for busy parents to make mealtimes healthy and pleasant. Parents also worry that their children might be missing vital nutrients essential for growth and development and to avoid certain diseases later in life. There has also been some recent research linking problems with moderate and severe selective eating and other medical conditions.
If you enjoy eating healthy foods every day, at regular times, your children will usually follow your example. Having a variety of foods, presented in a variety of ways, can help. Don’t assume your child will dislike particular foods or will always dislike them – children’s tastes do change with age. Children also need time to learn to like foods.
Some other suggestions include:
- Try keeping mealtimes consistent, with everyone present at the table and without distractions such as television
- Keep healthy snakes handy on the table or in the fridge
- Make foods look interesting on the plate
- Always try new foods regularly
- Add new foods to things you know your child likes
- Try to avoid too many options to the prepared meal, your child can choose to leave certain foods, but will learn to accept a meal if no other options are available
Please talk to a health professional if you are still worried your child’s eating to check for any medical problems or associations such as psychological, behavioural or sensory problems.