Forget Fussy Eaters, It Is Fussy Parents Who Need To Get It Right

Are you one of those parents who is fed up of your child’s fussy eating habits? Do you give in to her demands every time? Perhaps, it is time you look at the influence a fussy parent has on a child.

By Ashwin Dewan  • 9 min read

Forget Fussy Eaters, It Is Fussy Parents Who Need To Get It Right

Ritika Shah, a senior editor with a news agency, is a mother to four-year-old Aryamaan. On most days, Ritika breaks her head over her son’s eating habits. He eats nothing but a particular food for days altogether until another food catches his fancy and he turns his attention to eating only that. Ritika has tried every method to get her little one to eat different kinds of food so that he does not miss out on essential nutrients, but to no avail.

Ritika’s problem with her son’s fussy eating habits is one that parents all over the world face. While some children are happy to eat whatever they are given, others love to gorge on fried and sweet and salty stuff. The growing up years can be an extremely challenging time for both the parents and the children. In one instance, a child who was eating everything can begin to reject the same food.

But, what exactly is the root cause of this seemingly simple issue?

According to a news website, often, fussy and choosy eating habits were linked to and affected by everything from personality traits to parental control at mealtimes to social influences to maternal eating patterns. It is not something to worry about but your child might be missing on key nutrients that are present in different foods, required for proper growth and development.

So, what can you, as a parent, do? Go through the below text to know how you can set your fussy child right.

Eat together as a family:

One simple way of instilling good eating habits in your child from an early age is to sit down together at meal time. Children who eat regularly with their parents rather than by themselves, are less likely to develop poor and fussy eating habits later. You should realise that you are a role model to your child and he will follow your lead during meal times and enjoy healthy food. Eating together also instils in the child a feeling of stability and belonging.

What you can do:

Be a positive role model and eat different foods, including vegetables and fruits in front of children. They will try to follow and imitate you.

Learn to relax:

Children will be fussy about food, there is no two ways about this behaviour. During their growing up years, children will try out various food as and when they wish. Sometimes, they might want to have meat and jam in a sandwich at the same time and sometimes they may want to have noodles with rice. Also, children, especially toddlers, may start limiting the variety of foods they eat. There is no need to worry. Children get exposed to numerous foods and sometimes, they may have apprehensions about trying out a new food item.

What you can do:

Remember children need to taste any food many times before deciding whether they like it or not. Offer the food the next time you are eating it. Persist in a gentle manner but do not force.

All new parents are concerned about what and how much food to feed their child as they start reducing their dependence on breast milk and eating more solid foods. Read the below article to know more.

Do not let emotions get the better of you:

It is perfectly understandable that a child’s eating habits can be source of much worry for parents. But, as a parent, you should not become emotional and give in to your child’s eating habits. Do not cater to your child’s whims so that you can get satisfaction in known at least he is eating. Offer a variety of balanced meals.

What you can do:

Try to establish a routine of meals so your child knows when to expect food. Praise your child when he eats healthy or tries some new food on his own. Do not let your child try to control you through tears.

Maintain consistent rules:

For parents of fussy eaters, it is very important that they maintain clear and consistent food rules for the children. During eating hours, parents should: be clear and simple, be consistent, know when to call it quits and encourage good behaviour. So, if your child refuses a certain food they used to like earlier, it might just be a ploy for them to get you to offer them a better alternative. Be consistent. However, do not force or use a bribe as by doing this, you will create a major issue over food.

What you can do:

Do not try to give in to your child’s demands. For instance, the next time your child refuses to eat vegetables, do not offer an alternative. Just stand your ground and your child will have to eat the vegetables.

Try to work on presentation:

Children are very curious and observant by nature. More than the taste of the food, they are attracted to the size and the shape of the food. If the food looks bad, they think it will probably taste bad too. Keep food colourful and neat. It does not require much effort to arrange a food into a smiley face.

Breakfast should not necessarily be unhealthy. With a little bit of effort, you can whip up a delicious as well as nutritious breakfast. The ClipBook below looks at healthy breakfasts from around the world.

What you can do:

Try to present food in different and interesting ways. If your child hates steamed potato, try mashed or roasted potato. If she dislikes fruit, cut fruits into attractive animal face shapes.

Get your child involved in cooking:

One great way for parents to get fussy children to eat is by getting them involved in the cooking. Now, it need not necessarily have to be the entire process but small steps such as selecting the fruits, vegetables and healthy items can go a long way in getting children interesting in eating them. During cooking time, encourage children to wash the vegetables or arrange the food. This will instil in them a sense of ownership and they would want to eat what they helped make.

What you can do:

Let your child see cooking food as a fun activity. Let him arrange the vegetables and fruits. If you want, you can let him cut the vegetables but under strict supervision. Let him wash and peel vegetables, add salt or oil. This way, he will want to eat what he himself created.

There is no instant or magic solution to a fussy child and moreover, if the pattern has been going on for some time. However, with a little bit of patience and consistency, parents can turn the situation to their advantage.

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