I would hazard to guess that anyone with toddlers would at some stage deal with a child that is fussy, or off their food. You might have a child that is a carnivore and won't touch anything to do with veggies, a herbivore that thinks meat is Yuk, or my favourite a nuggetavore, a child that has no desire to eat anything except chicken nuggets with maybe a side of chips if you are lucky. Experts will tell you that being fussy eater is a normal part of children's development, however that doesn't help you when you are throwing out a perfectly good dinner for the third night in a row, or dealing with 11pm wake ups from a child who is so hungry.
I have come up with some strategies that have worked for us with our four children.
1 - Let them help
You will be surprised by how exciting mealtimes can become with a simple pair of tongs at mealtimes. How much tastier your children will find their sandwiches if they help spread the jam, how much extra things they put on their own pizza's if they get to make it themselves. Back when my daughter was two she would not eat breakfast, every morning was a real battle to get her to eat anything, until I started letting her butter her own toast. Now she wakes me up to help make toast.
2 - Lead by example
Make sure you show good eating habits to your children, be willing to try out new foods. If you ask my children what is the "worst food" they will all say Brussel sprouts, even though they have never eaten them. They have heard me say to people I hate brussel sprouts so they have already got a preconceived notion they are terrible.
3 - Portion size.
This is important for both adults and children alike. Remember your children do not need as much food as we do, it is better for your children to ask for seconds than for it to be a fight every night.
4 - Less drinks with meals.
Your children should be drinking regularly throughout the while day. Don't fill them up on drinks at mealtimes, they will be less likely to eat. We wait until our children are halfway through their dinner before our drinks come out.
5 - Routine (Have a proper mealtime)
Kids need routine, they thrive on it. Make sure you have a set mealtime and all sit down together, engage with them, show them by your own actions what mealtimes should look like. If they understand that it is mealtime now and they can't keep coming back for food it will create good eating habits.
6 - Think about your plates, cutlery etc.. Try sectional plates?
I love sectional plates for young children, as you know the story, your child loved broccoli yesterday, every meal had to have broccoli somehow included but then today she wont touch it, or anything that has touched it. Sectional plates solve this.
7 - Pack a lunchbox.
It's amazing how much more food my 2 and 3 year old eat at lunchtime if packed in a lunchbox
8 - Make mealtime fun
Serve your food in an interesting way, use sandwich cutters, taco trucks, a plate with their favourite character or my favourite, A Dinner winner plate, these plates are like their own game board they need to eat all the food and when they get to the end and have eaten all their dinner they receive a special treat. If their mealtimes is a fun time your child will be more interested in their food
9 - Simple Choices
Don't give your children to may choices, the rule of thumb is they should have no more choices than how old they are. So a two year old should have no more than 2 choices, a three year old, 3 choices.
Remember that your children that unless they have a medical condition that requires them to eat regularly that your children will not starve themselves so take the pressure of yourself, they will eat when they are hungry and just make sure you have some healthy food around when that time comes.
Click here, If you want to see some fun ideas for your dinner table