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5 tips to keeping hold of your sanity with a fussy eater

Do you have a fussy eater in the house? Here are five tips for saving your sanity when trying to get rid of those habits. And if all else fails - at least you know you aren't alone with having a kid that isn't happy about eating whatever you put in front of them!

I am very lucky, my kids aren’t generally a problem at mealtimes, but I have experienced those moments when meals can be a trial.

In addition, I have definitely seen many of my friends battle with a fussy eater. They have tried every tactic available in order to get their children to consume a nutritionally balanced meal without a battle of wills.

The conclusion I have come to after searching high and low for solutions to help is that there may often not even BE a specific one; as with many parenting challenges, there is often no “quick fix.” Every child is different and what works for one, may not necessarily work for another.

The main thing is to try and take comfort in knowing that you are not alone with your fussy eater shenanigans. In fact, pretty much every child, at some point, will go through a fussy stage. Some “stages” may very well feel like they are going on for a bl**dy, long time as well.

Here are some tips that will hopefully help your children to eat sensibly, and may even give you a chance to keep hold of your sanity.

Enjoy mealtimes together as a family

Often work commitments and childcare can stand in the way, but you should not dismiss the importance of eating meals together. Eating your meal at the same time will encourage them to copy you, potentially eating more than they normally would AND reducing the chance of them being too fussy about what they do eat. Well, provided you aren’ too fussy of course…. Niether of my kids like tomatoes, and guess what, neither do I…. *guilty as charged*

Cook a meal together

Where possible, let your child help you prepare their meals. Asking your child to pick a recipe can be fun too You can look through the cookery books together, and then perhaps wander around the shops getting the ingredients too. Not only can all this be fun, it is mightily educational too ;-)

There are lots of activities that the children will enjoy helping you out with in the kitchen and beyond; the washing, laying the table, preparing fruit and veg (of course supervised) and letting them touch and smell foods that are new to them. I have found that the children are more focused. It also means that it is one less chore for me to complete too *bad mummy*

Reduce portion size

This may be, to some, an obvious point, but it can be neglected. Our children’s tummys are not as big as ours, so their portions should reflect this. It is far more beneficial for a child to have a small plate of food and eat it all, than be overwhelmed by a large plate and not touch a single thing.

Remain calm

This is one of the biggest tips I can offer; but the hardest to actually achieve.

Eating is already a stressful time for ‘fussy eaters’ so try and avoid making mealtimes even more stressful for them. Getting annoyed, cross and frustrated is unlikely to make the situation any better. Just keep reminding yourself that this phase will pass in time, and for the moment try and breathe through it.

I know, more than anyone, how difficult this actually is…but we are in it together! ;-)

It is also worth trying not to make an alternative if you child has refused something you have given them. Sometimes this can mean that they realise that if they don’t have x (say carrots); mummy will just bring them y (say chips!) anyway which I really, really like! :-D

Remove any distractions

Whilst the children are having dinner, it can be very easy to put them in front of the TV to give you some peace. As difficult as this can be, try and focus on the task in hard. Make mealtimes a social point; an opportunity to discuss the day and enjoy each other’s company. We don’t allow toys at the table either – mealtimes are for eating, and chatting and pretty much nothing else. People have remarked at how strict this can seem, particularly as we have always done this, even when the kids were tiny babies. However, it does seem to work – mealtimes are for eating, they aren’t for getting distracted by the car that mummy let me bring to the table.

I hope these tips will help you make progress with your ‘fussy eaters’. I have learnt over the years that patience and a good routine gets us all a long way.

Photo credit: Stuart Miles /

Helen is a mum to two, social media consultant, and website editor; and this site is (we think) the only Social Enterprise parenting magazine! Since giving up being a business analyst when juggling travel, work and kids proved too complicated, she founded KiddyCharts so she could be with her kids, and use those grey cells at the same time. KiddyCharts has reach of over 1.1million across social and the site. The blog works with big family brands (including travel) to help promote their services, as well as offering free resources to parents of kids under 10. It gives 51%+ profits to Reverence for Life, who fund a number of important initiatives in Africa, including bringing running water and basic equipment to a school in Tanzania. Helen has worked as a digital marketing consultant (IDM qualified) with various organisations, including Channel Mum, Truprint, Talk to Mums, and Micro Scooters. She loves to be creative in the brand campaigns she works on. Get in touch TODAY!

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Clare Nicholas

Wednesday 6th of May 2015

Very good tips

We find cooking together really helps

Ickle Pickle

Friday 1st of May 2015

I wasn't a fussy eater at all - but am starting to be :( Mummy keeps calm, and tries to only have healthy food on offer x


Wednesday 29th of April 2015

All great tips , my son still is a fussy eater as a teenager


Monday 27th of April 2015

Great tips, I will have to give some more of these a go with my fussy 3 year old!


Monday 27th of April 2015

great tips, getting kids involved in preparation seems to help the most for me.

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