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Fussy eating is very common and most children will go through a phase of it as they grow up. It can often occur during the transition from soft to lumpy foods. It can be seen as part of normal development. Toddlers will refuse food that they have eaten before.

In this phase of development children will try to test the limits and strive for independence. Most children will grow out of the fussy eating, particularly when they start school.


Here are some suggestions about how to conduct mealtimes;

  • The most important thing you can do is to be calm and consistent as possible at mealtimes
  • Don’t worry too much about the combination of foods – remember breakfast cereal doesn’t always need to be kept for breakfast!
  • Meal times should be fun and relaxed, but with rules and structure to help your child learn appropriate behaviour
  • Give plenty of encouragement to your child when they are eating, even when they only eat a little bit, and ignore any unwanted behaviour – children soon learn that good behaviour is a much better way of getting your attention
  • Try to ensure there are no distractions such as TV at mealtimes. Ideally all meals should be eaten at the table. This will help the child associate the table with meals, whereas the lounge is associated with watching television
  • Try to eat together as a family. Children will copy parents, siblings and peers. Often children with eat well at school or nursery, but refuse meals at home


A good example should be set at home with lots of encouragement and the same rules for all the family!

  • Give your child plenty of motivation to eat, they will be more motivated if they get lots of encouragement from you, if they are old enough you can talk to them about how important food is to help us grow strong
  • A scrapbook recording new foods eaten can be very rewarding to a child. Perhaps they could receive a reward when they fill a page?
  • Some children have developed a genuine fear of food. Give them plenty of reassurance, comfort and encouragement to tackle their fears


Things may get worse before they get better, but try to persevere, it will be worth it in the end. Be patient… even though this is not always easy!

For more information click here 

Click here to read the Unicef Start for Life Introducing Solid Foods Leaflet

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