It is natural for parents to worry when their toddlers turn out to be fussy eaters. This is because your child needs to follow a balanced diet with foods from all major groups, for healthy growth and development. His or her diet should comprise carbohydrates, proteins, fibre, minerals and vitamins, and that cannot be accomplished if he or she is picky about food. So, here are a few tips which will help you deal with the fussy eating situation in a better way.

  1. Your child’s eating behaviour also depends on the eating environment. So, try making mealtimes happy and positive, and avoid cribbing about small things.
  2. Be realistic about the goals that you want your child to achieve with respect to eating, and appreciate them even if they make a small progress.
  3. Never force your child to try a new food, and give them the freedom to choose. If you stop giving attention to your child’s fussy behaviours, there is a chance that they will behave properly.
  4. Make healthy foods attractive and fun while presenting them. You can cut sandwiches into funny shapes or make a funny face with an omelette, sliced tomatoes, carrots, etc.
  5. Instead of watching television, talk to each other during mealtimes. Give your child a limited time to finish off their meals, and if they do not finish it, then take the plate away and do not give them the next snack or meal until it’s the scheduled time.
  6. If your kid doesn’t like to sit quietly for a meal, give them some time before every meal to calm them down, and you can even use this time to wash their hands properly.
  7. Give your child the freedom to choose from different healthy food options that you provide. But make sure that the options aren’t too many, or they might get overwhelmed.
  8. Involve your child in the meal preparation. For example, they can pick what to eat, wash fruits and vegetables, and mix the salad.
  9. Being calm is also the key to dealing with a fussy eater. At times, their fussy behaviour is just their way of asserting their independence and trying to get a reaction from you.
  10. You can try making your kids eat new foods by putting small amounts on their plates along with a food that they already like. Like, a small piece of broccoli can be served along with their already favourite mashed potato.
  11. Encourage them to touch, smell or lick the new food. Fill their plates with foods of different shapes and attractive colours, and let them choose what they want to eat.
  12. Keep offering your kids the food that they dislike because they may tend to try it someday.
  13. Serve your kid the same food that you as a family eat, but in the appropriate portion size. Avoid adding salt and always check the nutrition labels.
  14. Make sure that they eat food from all the major food groups i.e. fruits and vegetables, potatoes, bread, rice, pasta and other starchy carbohydrates, dairy or its alternatives, beans, pulses, fish, eggs, meat and other proteins.
  15. Add cheese to any recipe if they don’t like yogurt, but in moderation. Try adding different herbs and spices to make the food tasty.
  16. Do not punish your kids if they reject new foods as they might associate new foods with negativity then. Also, do not bribe them with candies to try new foods. This will make them feel that trying new foods is more of a task and they will get more attracted to the treats.
  17. Instead of worrying if your child has eaten enough for the day, assess how much they have eaten over a week.
  18. If your child is active and healthy, it means they are eating well. Do not give your kids too many snacks, as two healthy snacks in a day is more than enough.
  19. Make sure that your child is hungry when you want them to try new foods. Only provide water to them in between meals, and 100% juice or milk along with the meals. Giving them milk in between meals will only fill them up.
  20. Do not cook a separate meal for your child if they reject the original one. Encourage them to eat along with you and your family.
  21. You can even serve cauliflower and other vegetables with a great dip in your kid’s lunch box You can serve breakfast options as dinner too.
  22. Offering dessert as a reward or completely withholding dessert can make kids think that desserts are special foods. Schedule dessert nights either once a week or once every two weeks or serve fruits or yoghurt as dessert options.
  23. Once your kid likes a particular food, try including other foods with similar taste or textures in a picky eater toddler’s recipe. Like, if they love biryani, give them khichdi and roasted vegetables next time.
  24. Give them unfamiliar foods that might be sour or bitter with familiar foods that are sweet or salty. For instance, you can pair broccoli (bitter) with grated cheese (salty), which will enhance the toddler’s taste buds.

If you think that your toddler not eating is hindering his or her growth and development, consult your doctor. They can track your child’s growth chart. You can even maintain a food log to see if they are eating enough. Always remember that eating behaviour in children cannot change overnight, so take tiny steps each day to teach them about healthy eating.