8 in 10 Australian parents are concerned about their children’s eating habits. Kids refuse foods for a variety of reasons – from colour and texture to individual preferences, to being too full from snacks. Osana dietitians’ tips include:
- Keep re-offering the same food. If the child does not like avocado and cheese that you made as a snack, reoffer the same avocado and cheese for lunch. While it is frustrating, we have to wait for the child to be hungry enough. Do not offer a replacement meal unless the child is very unwell.
- A child is more likely to eat the food if they are involved in shopping, food preparation and cleaning. Try and make it a relaxed social environment. Don’t worry about the mess and focus on making mealtimes a happy and social occasion.
- Turn off distractions like TV and set a specific duration for meals e.g. 30 minutes. Anything that goes on too long isn’t fun. If your child hasn’t eaten the food in this time, take it away and don’t offer your child more food until the next planned meal or snack time. Avoid treats as a bribe to get through a meal.
- And last, remember the roles and responsibilities. It is the parent’s responsibility to provide healthy nutritious meals and it is the child’s responsibility to eat as much as they want. Children learn about food from touch, taste and smell – set realistic expectations and offer praise to encourage them along.
You’re not alone if this is a concern in your household, but know that being a fussy eater isn’t all bad – sometimes it’s a way for children to explore their environment and assert their independence, and it’s also a function of their energy output as well.