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Fussy Eaters

What do you do if your child won't eat their meal?

Step 1: Avoid battles – remove the uneaten food without making a fuss.

Step 2: Never replace the uneaten meal with an unhealthy food or drink.

Tell them they can have the uneaten meal or a healthy snack later.

Many young children will try to show their independence at meal times. Parents cannot force their child to eat. However, it is the job of the parents to offer healthy foods and drinks. Children won’t starve, they will eventually eat healthy foods if that is all they are given.

Tips for happy meal times

Provide very small servings of disliked foods (e.g. 3 green peas). Kids often need to see the food 10 to 15 times before they accept it.

  • Have meals in a calm environment with no distractions like television or Youtube.
  • Add grated fruits and veggies to sauces, gravy, soup, muffins and pikelets.
  • Ask your child to help choose fruit and veggies at the supermarket.
  • Ask your child to help with cooking, like tearing lettuce leaves for a salad.
  • Provide dinner early (such as 4pm) if your child is too tired to eat later.
  • Do not let your child ‘fill-up’ on fluids before meals.
  • Do not use food as a reward – telling kids “you can have an ice-cream if you eat your broccoli” – it only reinforces the appeal of sweets over vegetables.
  • Adults need to be good role models and eat healthy foods too.