I think we all want to do the right thing by our children and perhaps the best thing we can do for them is help them develop a positive relationship with food. Research shows that the more tastes of different foods a baby has in their first 12 months, the wider the variety of foods they will go on to enjoy into childhood. A hugely important tool in combating the rise of Type 2 Diabetes.
My mantra is ‘Cook Often, Cook Fresh and Cook Varied’. And of course be patient. Do this and you will be surprised at how well they eat and how well they in turn, sleep, grow and learn.
If you have a fussy eater there are a few simple questions you can ask yourself.
Start by looking at what you are serving them;
Is it bland?
Is it always the same?
Are you falling into the common trap of offering choices when they don’t eat main course?
Do you offer all-day grazing?
Are you using off-the-shelf baby food options?
Have you got the texture right?
Do they fill up on milk before meal-time?
All of these are really common mistakes parents make, often in an attempt to keep the peace. But that peace is short lived as all of these can lead to the development of fussy eater.
In the case of offering choices, it is not actually a fussy eater you are dealing with, rather a child who is caught in a power struggle with mum and dad. Most kids don’t really dislike foods they wont eat, its just they would rather something else and have learned that by holding out, a loving parent will give them what they want. You need to be brave, take the upper hand and know that it is ok to say no to your child. It is ok if they skip a meal. It is ok if you pack away the meal they wont eat and move on, no matter the tears and histrionics. They need to know that you are not there as a full time catering service. You provide a meal, they decide whether to eat it.
Or as mentioned above, there are other possible influencers and you need to be aware if these are your issues and amend accordingly. If you serve bland food, inject some flavour (not salt or sugar!), if you think they are not hungry at meal-time, change the routine.
By following a few simple guidelines you should be able to create a happy eater who is willing to try foods of all different colours and textures. They may go onto to develop firm favourites and as they hit 2 years of age start rejecting certain foods, but if they started off eating them, chances are they will come back to them. Who knows Broccoli Soup might become a favourite in your house as it ours.
For great meal ideas and feeding tips, check out my book Food Babies Love – www.foodbabieslove.com.au