Dealing with kids who are fussy eaters or kids who won’t eat, are very common problem for parents of young children.
Parents will frequently pull their hair out and fret believing that their kids are “different” to other kids in that they very little and/or will only eat one or two things.
So, here are three reassuring insights to help you cope.
1. Even kids who are fussy eaters can still consume what their bodies need
The first thing to know is that the body knows what it needs.
The three main food groups are proteins, carbohydrates and fats and as long as your child gets these three groups (in whatever form) they will continue to grow and be healthy despite eating the same food.
Just check out what it is your child is eating in terms of what it contains.
For example, a peanut paste sandwich contains proteins, carbohydrates and fat, so your child is getting what it needs.
In addition, look at the overall person; is their skin healthy, do they smile and wake up bright and cheerful in the morning, do they have energy and are physically active – all tell-tale signs of a healthy child.
2. Kids who “won’t eat” are sometimes eating to the beat of their own drums
As a small child, our youngest would never quite eat a full meal and appeared to be eating miniscule amounts of food.
After much worrying and pleading, my wife and I observed that she preferred to graze rather than eat a plateful of food at meal times.
So, we would prepare a tray full of different foods; carrots, cucumber, cherry tomatoes, small pieces of cheese, crackers, nuts (if they’re old enough), dried and fresh fruit pieces and left it for her to graze as she pleased.
And then we didn’t worry or make an issue of the amount or what she ate at meal times.
This may be something you can try as it removes the pressure from both the parent and the child by allowing the child to choose what they want to eat.
They are generally curious individuals so having different coloured foods on a tray may entice them to try them.
3. I want to be free – sometimes kids simply rebel
Sometimes children simply want to rebel.
When you no longer pay attention to the tantrums surrounding eating and they stop getting the attention by you walking away and not making an issue of it (eg, not raising your voice), you may find that they will often return to eating a variety of foods.
If you’d like to dive deeper into dealing with kids who are fussy eaters, or kids who won’t eat, I go into more detail and offer more strategies in my book, Raising Happy Kids.
It also covers how to deal with tantrums and getting children to do what you want them to do.