Labelling a child as a ‘fussy eater’ is quite common. Many young children will go through some sort of fussy stage as they learn about food and the power of dictating what goes in their mouth. This can be a very frustrating time as a parent but with a few tricks up your sleeve you can help your child through this phase and out the other side.

First of all, what is a fussy eater? Does your child:

  • Prefer to eat common or familiar foods and refuse to eat other options? They may still eat more than 30 types of foods but they certainly have their preferences.
  • Remove foods from their plate that they don’t want to eat, such as the all common broccoli? They may still tolerate it in their vicinity, and are happy to touch it and perhaps play with it, but they won’t eat it.
  • Join the family for meals but only eat the part of the meal they are comfortable to eat? You may have to serve their sauce on the side, but they will still eat what everyone is having.
  • Eventually try a new food after seeing it so much it becomes familiar? After removing the broccoli from their plate for the 20th time, they might just put it in their mouth and try it!

If your child has any of the above behaviours, then they may be considered a fussy eater. But know that these behaviours are quite common as children explore the world of food. Remember that food is something they need to get to know and we can’t expect them to eat something they don’t recognise. It’s about making food familiar and encouraging children to try it when they are comfortable doing so.

It’s important to distinguish a child who is going through a fussy eating phase from a child who has food aversions or is a problem feeder. If your child eats a very limited number of foods (under 20), refuses or will only eat a certain texture (eg crunchy), and really struggles with the introduction of new foods, you may have a problem feeder on your hands.

Whether your child is a fussy eater or a problem eater, professional support from a naturopath can assist with an approach that suits your child’s preferences to ensure they are getting their nutritional requirements. A professional will also investigate any underlying reasons behind their behaviour and work to address these.

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If you’re in the Brisbane area and would like a more personalised approach, or have a fussy eater at home that needs additional support, visit me in the city for a consultation.