Little Dish’s nutritionist, Lucy Jones, gives us her top tips for coping with fussy little eaters at mealtimes
At Little Dish, their mission is to make a positive impact on children’s health and since 2014, they have worked closely with award-winning dietitian, broadcaster and Mum, Lucy Jones (MRES BSC Hons RD MBDA) to help them achieve this. Lucy is qualified in Human Nutrition and Dietetics from London Metropolitan University and is registered with the Health and Care Professions Council. Lucy is Mum to two little boys, Archie and Jack, and she combines her professional expertise and her first-hand experience to help Little Dish ensure that all of their food is tailored to meet toddlers’ specific nutritional needs.
According to research, Britain has the fussiest toddlers in Europe, and most of us find our little ones have times where they display food fussiness.
Here are some of Lucy’s top tips for coping with fussy little eaters at meal times.
Over to you Lucy….
1. Same time, same place! Establish a stable routine with known times and locations for meals and snacks. Familiar places and times can help the child feel relaxed and comfortable.
2. You set the rules – offer simple, healthy food and don’t ask them what they want. Offer a little, and then more if they finish it with lots of praise.
3. If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Refusal of new foods is entirely normal. Remove uneaten food without comment. Continue to offer the same food alongside more accepted foods at future mealtimes. It could take 15-25 exposures before acceptance.
4. No pressure! Don’t force or pressurise your child to eat; studies show this makes it worse.
5. No choccy rewards! Don’t reward eating with liked foods – use a trip to the park instead.
6. Don’t restrict access to liked foods – it is only likely to reinforce their desirability.
7. Be a role model – don’t offer vegetables whilst you eat a takeaway. The best mealtimes are where the child has someone to copy such as parents, siblings and friends.
8. Make mealtimes happy and fun – avoid telling off or creating a bad atmosphere.
9. Look what I did! Involve the child: grow-your-own, pick-your-own, helping with food preparation. Handling foods helps towards acceptance, in the same way as repeated offerings at mealtimes.
10. Don’t stress about the mess! Allow self-feeding. Freedom increases their sense of control and helps them eat more.
11. If your child is under 5, make sure you give them daily vitamins. I found this really helped to reduce my anxiety about my little one’s nutritional welfare when he has had fussy episodes.
12. Toddlers can go through food fads and phases. My son turns into a banana boy at times, unwilling to eat anything else. It’s really important at this age to consider intake on a weekly, rather than daily basis. There are many apps you can download to help you do this and weekly charts so you tot up food portions through the week. Chances are that your child is getting everything they need.
There is also some great info online – check out these links which have reliable information:
All the best,