If you’re the parent of a child between the ages of 4 and 10, then you know that they can have extreme likes and dislikes when it comes to food. Children will simply refuse to eat some things, no matter how much you request, demand, or order them to. But when you have a fussy eater on your hands, you begin to worry. Read up on how to cope with fussy eaters, navigate this problem and take on the responsibility to change your child’s eating habits.
Why Is My Child A Fussy Eater
Let’s take a look at the possible root cause of the problem before we get to the solution. There isn’t just one particular cause that leads to fussy eaters; every child who is a fussy eater has their own reason to be fussy about it. The reason might only make sense to them, and may or may not be valid in real life, but it does exist.
Some kids are born with inherent sensitivity to certain smells, tastes, or textures. After all, everybody is different in their own way. Plus, kids process a lot of information in the first few years of their lives, deciding for themselves what they like and don’t. This is why every child will likely go through a ‘fussy’ phase when their sense of taste is developing.
Children are also masters of mimicking habits, learning a lot by mimicking adults around them. And let’s be honest, adults can be very picky about the food they eat too! Your child may be picky about what to eat because they’re imitating an adult around you. Pay close attention to the eating habits of the adults around the baby, and you may just have your answer.
How To Cope With Fussy Eaters
How to cope with fussy eaters goes beyond tolerating tantrums since can also cause a lot of nourishment issues. Like any bad habit, fussy eating is hard to break, but the good news is that it isn’t impossible. Children can be convinced, coaxed, or even tricked into trying food types that they refuse to eat. Here’s how you can help your little one adapt to foods better.
1. Understand The Fuss
Ask your child questions like “Why do you like to eat this?” and “Why don’t you like to eat that?” Help your child put the reason behind their fussy eating into words. Understanding why they like or dislike a particular food can really help you fix the problem. It gives you an insight into their peculiarities that they may not be able to properly express unless coaxes. This also helps you figure out whether it’s fussiness related to taste, or simply an issue of throwing tantrums.
2. Explain The Importance Of A Balanced Meal
Even if your child is unable to understand the concept of a balanced diet, they can definitely understand the concept of nutrients and how different food helps them differently. A good example of this is when we tell children that eating carrots will stop them from having to wear spectacles.
Even though it is hard to explain to your child the complicated chemistry between your body and Vitamin A, they can definitely understand that carrots improve eyesight. Encourage them to look after themselves, equating it with them ‘being responsible’ to give them a sense of accomplishment. This can help reduce your child’s fussiness and make them more willing to try different foods.
3. Set An Example
Children learn everything by looking at adults, and eating habits are no different. To show your child the importance of eating different kinds of foods, let them observe you doing the same. Try to eat at least one meal every day as a family, sitting together, so that your child can observe your eating habits and partake in the meal with the adults. You can even feed younger children from your own plate.
To set a good example, make sure that you follow the same eating etiquette yourself. Seeing you eat a balanced diet will surely encourage your child to do the same.
4. Experiment With The Food
If your child starts showing dislike for food, try making it with a different preparation method. Put it in something fun that your kid likes to eat. If your child doesn’t like aloo sabzi, then make aloo paratha. If they are fussy about eating raw salad, then try putting those veggies in a sandwich.
Making different variations of certain dishes is a good way to experiment a way around their fussiness. This also helps them get the nutritional value that they could otherwise be missing out on because of refusing to eat certain foods.
5. Manage Their Appetite
Make sure to keep their appetite in mind when asking them to eat anything. If your child says that they aren’t hungry, do not force them to eat. Forcing them to eat when they are not hungry might cause them to negatively associate with the food, which might lead to eating disorders.
Instead, make sure there’s always some food on hand for when they do feel hungry. Hunger can be quite the cure for any fussiness, so try your luck by giving them something they’re normally picky about. If you’re lucky, your child may just gobble it down in their hunger, which can get them used to eating it. Whatever you do, do not deliberately keep food from them in order to make them hungry.
6. Involve Them In The Process
The best way to stop your child from being a fussy eater is by involving them in the decision-making to a certain extent. For example, if you ask them to choose between paneer and potato, you are allowing them to choose which food item they are more comfortable eating.
Keep giving them choices like these, but make sure to tell them that they can only select from those two options. You can also take their opinion on how they would like a dish to be prepared.
The key to how to cope with a fussy eater? Patience. You as a parent will need to be extremely patient with your little one. Fussy eating is essentially a bad habit, and habits do not disappear overnight. It will take up a lot of your time and patience, but when you succeed, you will have created a healthier future for your child. Check out the ImmunifyMe app to enjoy benefits like a customized eating plan and milestone tracking that can help your parenting journey get easier.
FAQs On How To Cope With Fussy Eaters
How Do You Tell If Your Child Is A Picky Eater?
Picky eaters are extremely particular about what they eat, and how they eat it. If your child absolutely refuses to eat a specific dish or doesn’t like two different preparations touching each other, or if they eat too slowly, then they are probably a picky eater.
Is Picky Eating Psychological?
Picky eating is not a mental condition, but it can be the result of something psychological. Most children go through a fussy phase when they start becoming more independent and stop relying on their mother for everything. However, consistent picky eating that doesn’t disappear over time can be a sign of an underlying problem.
What Do Picky Eaters Not Like?
Preparations that are low in flavor but high in nutrients are often disliked by fussy eaters. Boiled vegetables and plain dairy are often on this list. However, every child has their own likes and dislikes, especially picky eaters.