14 Answers

My daughter has been so fussy with food for a few years now. I am wanting tips and tricks or advice. She doesn’t eat meat besides chicken fingers, she won’t get veggies and she will eat some fruits but some days she doesn’t like one thing the next it’s a different thing. We have had so many talks with her about it and when she got Covid I told her maybe if she started eating better she won’t get it again etc but no luck.

Posted by Danielle Jackson, 23rd May 2022

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  • My son was very very fussy for a long time as well. He is 7 now and still fairly fussy but we have moved to trying different things. He doesn’t have to like everything and eat it all but at every dinner we give him something new to try

  • i think getting kids to eat veggies is always a struggle. I use the tupperware supersonic cutter which chops the veggies down super small and can then be added into curries, risotto, omlette, quiche, spaghetti. even chocolate chip muffins.

    My paed bascically told me if shes eating then thats all that matters.

    <y daughter literally lived on sultanas and cheese for months!

    Chin up mumma, she will eventually get there

  • No real advice just here to say I’m in a similar boat with myb4.5 year old son. Drives me mad.

  • I’m wondering if this is just a phase and she will hopefully grow out of it? Could you try a powder vegetable and greens mix that you could mix in her drink, to ensure she is getting the right nutrients?

  • We tend to look at the quality of foods over the day and over the week rather than meal to meal. My daughter has sensory issues that tie into her ADHD. So we’ve had food battles at our house since she was about 18 months. She’s nearly 8 now and we find more gets eaten if we take the pressure off. Some days she’ll eat fruit at school. Some days it’ll be two bites and the rest goes in the bin. She likes crunchy things like apples or carrot sticks. But she won’t eat cooked veggies if she knows they’re there. We sneak some veg into her through things like chicken soup, which she loves. Sometimes she’ll eat a few peas and corn if I make rice with them mixed through. Getting kids involved in helping cook the food seems to make them more receptive to trying new things. For example, a friend has been using Hello Fresh recently, and says her daughter eats better and is more likely to try new things when she helps prepare the meals. It doesn’t have to be as complicated as using a meal service though. You could have a “make your own pizza night”, line up a few different toppings on the counter (eg ham, pineapple, capsicum, mushrooms, tomato, cheese), and let her build her own pizza and make her own choices with the ingredients. Same with say taco night. Pop all the fillings on the table and let her make her own choices about what goes into hers.

    If you think your little one may have sensory aversions to some foods (eg, she gags at different textures), then an OT may be about help work through that. We’ve used something called “Food chaining” to get my sensory kid to try new things. We look at things she likes, like say peanut butter and chicken, and find another food or meal that includes those things. My daughter generally won’t eat saucy foods, but she now will eat small bits of chicken satay and very mild chicken curries.

    In terms of resources, One Handed Cooks are very helpful for family friendly recipe ideas. They have a couple of meal planning groups on Facebook as well.

  • I think it’s important to shift the language. Rather than “if you ate..” to “OOo look at this, this will make you feel better, you might not like it but it’s good for your tummy”. Also, try and get more creative, My daughter couldn’t get her son to eat veggies but she then decided to turn them and mash them into things that he would like, she made him collard chips in the over and he ate a whole bowl!! she makes pushing cakes and her own nuggets and adds little goodies in them, she also gives him things he may not want but let’s him lick it.. seems to slowly be working.

  • For us it’s the same with our 3 year old.
    We try and cook things up in different ways and present it differently as well.
    Sometimes we even say “it’s Elsa’s favourite food” as our daughter is obsessed with frozen and it makes her eat it lol.
    Don’t know if that will work with a five year old?!

  • My kids are fussy eaters too, it’s hard! I just keep offering it to them or try serving it up in different ways. They are slowly eating foods they wouldn’t normally eat but it’s taking awhile to get there.

  • I’m blessed with good eaters, but I know you’re not alone and many children survive on a rather nutritional poor diet. When you’re concerned (because for example poor diet causes sicknesses) you could speak with your GP about it, who can arrange an appointment with the health nurse or refer to a dietician or pediatrician.

  • I would recommend getting her more involved in cooking. Chopping up the carrots, potato and celery and making fun meals for you both. Buy her her own cook book. Cooking is a skill everyone should have. Start with eggs, make a scrambled egg brekky. Cook veggie fritters/pancakes Zucchini and corn fritters are delicious and fun to make. Making Pizza dough and topping Pizzas is fun for kids and they feel proud they made it themselves.

  • There’s a lot of pressure around food in young children. I take the pressure off my children by telling them “you don’t have to like it, but you do have to try it”. Once they know it’s ok not to like the food they seemed more willing to try it. I myself am fussy, so I find it easier to “hide” my veggies… that is I disguise the flavour with garlic or other sauces. I especially love spaghetti bolognaise, and I get the extra veggies sauce. We also use the same sauce in tacos and nachos. You could also try making dip, use subtle flavoured vegetables and a whole lot of apple sauce. And if your child likes certain fruits, make them available as much as possible, as fruit is an excellent source of vitamins and nutrients… as for meat, maybe you can try fish fingers or disguising other meat to look like the chicken fingers? Best of luck to you

  • We view meals over a whole day so continue to present good options and let her decide what and how much to eat. I find One Handed Cooks a great resource as well as Kids Eat in Colour and Feeding Littles (I think the latter two are only on Insta). These three will help with methods to try and how to understand what is going on. For example, sometimes kids demand certain foods because they want control not the actual food. I have tested this so many times and find it to be so true. She’ll ask for a chocolate before dinner. Instead of no I say sure I will give you some chocolate with dinner. At dinner I’ll put said food item (in this example chocolate) on her plate with her other food. Guess what? She usually has a small nibble of that item then eats the rest, or may even completely ignore requested item!! Make dinner about being together as a family instead of ‘why don’t you eat your peas’. Letting your child decide what and how much to eat also teaches them to understand when they are hungry and when they are full. I was made to eat everything on my plate as a child and now as an adult overeating is an issue for me.
    Kids and eating is tricky. If all she’ll eat are chicken fingers, can you make some with veg in it? Also consider that sometimes you may need to present a food 100 times before they’ll eat it. It’s a progression but just don’t stop presenting different foods. Keep the exposure up but make sure you serve a safe food with every meal, that is something you know they’ll eat and the rest might be new to them. Good luck but know you’re not alone, eating for most kids can be tricky!

  • Fussy eating is something kids go through and grow out of eventually. Keep offering different foods and maybe supplement with a milk formula, just to ensure she’s not missing out on essential nutrients

  • Could it be a sensory issue? My five year old won’t eat tomatoes, but will happily eat them in a Bolognese. We think it’s a texture and visual thing. Have you tried having her closer her eyes and taste something without looking at it?

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