Winner Dinners For Fussy Eaters

We all have different sized appetites, no matter our age. Young children are no exception. Children’s appetites fluctuate greatly. All kids go through food fads, some just seem to last longer than others!

Tips for Parents with Fussy Eaters

Here are a few tips for coping with a fussy eater:

  • Be guided by your child and try to think in terms of what they’ve eaten over the course of a week
  • Try to eat all meals together. Your child is more likely to copy good eating habits from other family members
  • Make sure your child isn’t too hungry or tired to eat
  • Try to be relaxed about mealtimes and try not to make any comments about the amount your child eats
  • You might find that your child is filling up on unhealthy food or snacks with friends, at nursery or at school, and that fussiness at home is actually a full tummy
  • As long as your child is active and gaining weight then it’s highly likely that they’re getting enough to eat, although it might not seem it to you
  • It can be frustrating when dealing with a fussy eater but try not to worry about food rejection. Be patient and keep a journal
  • Jot down the foods they’ve eaten over three days. You might be surprised!
  • Try cutting out a milk drink or a snack and offering fresh fruit instead – your child might be more hungry at teatime
  • Once you have a list of foods they’ve eaten, see if there is a connection between the time of day, the foods they eat and the circumstances. Do they eat better when it’s quieter and with fewer distractions? Or do they eat better during the day? If so, swap your teatime meal for sandwiches at lunch.
  • It’s perfectly normal for toddlers to refuse to eat or even taste new foods
  • Remember, a child will always eat if she or he is hungry
  • If you are worried, speak to your health visitor or GP
  • Try to take the lead from your child and don’t let mealtimes become a battleground

Make Meal Times Fun

To break the cycle of challenging mealtimes, try thinking about teatime in a different way. Changing the scene and breaking routine can help greatly and making a meal a special event can distract the child from any eating worries.

  • Involve your child in mealtimes. If they help you prepare a meal, they are more likely to eat the fruits of their labour. See our section on Cooking with kids for more tips!
  • Pack up tea into a picnic, grab a blanket and eat your meal in the park, in the garden or by the swings
  • Make a den under the stairs or under the table and surprise your kids by serving tea in a fun environment
  • Alternatively, have a teddy bear’s picnic and invite dolls and other favourite toys to join in
  • Even very young children enjoy having friends round for tea. Invite a friend over with a good appetite and try to take the back seat.

Introducing new foods

It’s important that your child eats some food from each of the four main food groups. So that’s milk and dairy products, starchy foods, fruit and veg and protein – opt for healthy proteins such as eggs, fish and turkey.

Even if your child prefers the same favourites, you don't need to worry, gradually introduce new foods or revert back to the foods your child didn’t like before and try them again.

The best way for your child to learn to eat and enjoy new foods is to copy you – eat with them as often as you can so that you can set a good example.

Top Three Meals for Fussy Eaters

Packaging up teatime classics in a different guise can make a big difference when it comes to clean plates. For example, a child might refuse cooked carrots but enjoy raw, grated carrot. Here are our top three recipes for fussy eaters:

  1. Turkey Lasagne for Lumpy Loathers: Who doesn’t love lasagne? Especially when you make a super-smooth sauce without any lumps or visible veggies. During stage one of the recipe make a simple modification - fry separately the onion, mushrooms and tomatoes and perhaps add a diced carrot, once softened and cooked on a low heat for 30 minutes, blend into a smooth sauce. Then add this to the turkey mince. Ask your child to add the grated cheese on top of the lasagne. Then whet their appetites by allowing them to watch the cheese bubble on the top as it slowly cooks. (Remember to supervise children near a hot oven.)
  2. Pitta Pockets for Picky Poppets: Sneak in two of their five a day into this turkey pitta recipe. A novel way to enjoy our classic family favourite. Simply spread some mashed avocado or some hummus into the pitta bread before serving. The yoghurt sauce also contains a sneaky cucumber. And try serving some cherry tomatoes on a cocktail stick.
  3. Wheelie Good Turkey Ham and Cheese Pastry Wheels: Great for teatimes and leftovers make a good alternative to lunchbox sandwiches, these yummy pastry wheels are delicious hot out of the oven and smell really good whilst they’re cooking. This is a very easy recipe to make, so involve your child at every stage. They’ll be dead chuffed they’ve made their own tea! Serve with baked beans. For added goodness, roast two red peppers and once soft, blitz in the blender with a little oil and use this paste instead of tomato puree.