Most children go through phases where they stop eating, and for a lot of parents this can be a very worrying time. Children are quite resilient and will not harm themselves if they don’t eat enough for a few days. If the problem continues and your child’s weight and growth are affected, ask your doctor to refer you to a paediatric dietitian for further advice.
Here are some practical tips for parents dealing with fussy eaters:
- never force feed a child;
- remove the food without making a fuss and don’t offer an alternative – wait for the next snack time or meal time before offering food again;
- give small portions of food at meal times;
- try offering finger foods as these are often easier for little ones to manage;
- fizzy drinks, squashes and milk can fill a child up, so avoid big drinks before meal times;
- snacking on crisps, chocolate, biscuits and cake can also fill a child up so avoid giving snacks too close to a meal;
- try to eat in a calm and relaxed environment – turn off televisions and radios, tidy away the toys, and don’t rush meals;
- sit together as a family at the table and enjoy your meals together – showing your child that you enjoy meals might encourage them to eat a little more;
- use brightly coloured plates and cutlery.
According to the British Dietetic Association’s paediatric group, new tastes or textures may need to be offered 16 or 17 times before your child will take them – so don’t give up too soon.