Annabel Karmel’s tips for feeding fussy eaters
Mealtimes should be an enjoyable opportunity to spend time with the family, but sometimes they can become stressful if your child refuses their food and is unwilling or scared to try new food. The Royal College of Psychiatrists (RCP) say that a third of under-fives are fussy eaters and practice food refusal or selective eating, and state that the majority of children will grow out of it.
While this is reassuring to know it doesn’t make getting your child on board with eating and trying new foods any easier, so to help out we’ve have asked the UKs No.1 Parenting Author and MBE, Annabel Karmel to share her top tips.
1. Try to make mealtimes a really positive experience. One of the most important things is to hide your frustration. It may mean ignoring some bad eating behaviour and focusing on good behaviour.
2. Variety is the spice of life: try to keep things mixed up and not just stick with favourite meals. Repeatedly giving only the foods that your child will eat can encourage extreme fussiness and may lead to a restricted and unbalanced diet.
3. If your child will only eat a couple of dishes, try giving new food only when they are very hungry. Encourage them to try even the smallest amount and heap on the encouragement if they manage it.
4. If your child completely refuses to try new foods, maybe mix it together with something your child likes. Try adding vegetables to pasta, like spinach in lasagne or mushrooms hidden in tomato sauce.
5. Get your kids into the kitchen. Most children adore cooking and it’s amazing how being involved in planning and preparing of a meal can stimulate a child’s appetite.
6. Eating with the whole family whenever possible can really make a difference, not only is it a great chance to all sit together, but children mimic their parents, so it is a good idea to lead by example.
7. Give small portions-it’s not good to overload your child’s plate. Also children generally prefer smaller pieces of food so it’s a good idea to make foods such as mini burgers with new potatoes, small broccoli florets and mini carrots. Attractive presentation can make the difference between your child accepting and refusing food. Whole fruit may well not get eaten but fresh fruit onto skewers or straws immediately becomes more appealing.
8. Children like to assemble their own food, so you could lay ingredients out in bowls and let your children fill and fold their own wraps or choose their favourite toppings for their home-made pizzas.
9. If the sun’s out get making fruit ice lolly moulds with different purees and juices.
So, no more mealtime tantrums!