For as long as there have been mealtimes, there has been highchair warfare and pint-sized stand-offs. A fussy toddler is enough to instill fear in many parents at mealtimes, and we’ve all heard stories of children who survive on nothing but potato, yoghurt and cucumbers cut into perfect stars for years on end.

We have access to more fresh produce than ever before. Brilliant ingredients are at our fingertips, and the variety we have in Australia is really second to none.

Parents can minimise fussy eating (and the food wars that follow) by introducing their children to a wide range of colours and textures early on in their child’s food eating habits. Research by the University of Bristol, UK, shows that 1 in 5 children will be fussy by the time they are 15 months if they are only given soft baby food before 10 months of age[1].

Australia is also now facing the fact that 25% of school-aged children are overweight or obese, and preschoolers are not immune.[2] A staggering 20% of our pre-school kids are overweight.[3] Overweight children are very likely to become overweight adults

“Food is not just about nutrition. Food, and more importantly the meal-time associated to it, is about developing positive healthy eating habits for now and their future.” states nutritionist Mandy Dos Santos, of Little People Nutrition.

Danielle Colley, author of “Cook Once Feed All”, says the solution may seem very simple, but creating good habits around how we eat is as important as the food we are consuming. Colley says ”Children look to parents as role models. As parents we therefore need to be aware that the way we eat will significantly effect the life-long eating habits of our children”

Colley suggests that simple yet interesting recipes can ignite a love of good, healthy food from an early age and can promote general wellbeing, and can certainly save parents the dramas often associated with mealtimes.

“I love a large array of foods” says Colley “so it seemed natural to me to share everything I was eating with my children from an early age. In my book I share lots of versatile dishes that can have an adult twist at the end to make meals accessible for kids but also interesting for the adults and older children in the house. I find this approach is so much easier than making multiple meals for the household. It’s less work and everyone is happy.

For more information go to http://keepingupwiththeholsbys.com

[1] http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcarticles.nsf/pages/Toddlers_and_fussy_eatinghas
[2] Prepared by Deakin University for the Department of Human Services. Promoting healthy eating: a planning guide for practitioners. Published by Victorian Government Department of Human Services, July 2005.
[3] Wake M, Hardy P, Canterford L, Sawyer M, Carlin JB. Overweight, obesity and girth of Australian preschoolers: prevalence and socio-economic correlates. Int J Obes (Lond).2007;31(7) :1044-51.
  • these are really good facts
    thanks for sharing


  • Great article, so much new and fresh ideas that kids would love, thanks for sharing.


  • Luckily (now), my kids love to try new foods, often watching things like Masterchef & MKR they will spy something and want to try it.


  • I try not to make it warefare and give the kids options


  • I like to plan the meals around who is eating at my table to make sure it’s a nice time for everyone.
    I will leave out a veggie for one person and double up on another if they like or not like what I am cooking. I just hate waste and then there is no tears at my table.


  • Mealtimes can be a real nightmare at times. Thanks for the read.


  • Mealtimes should not be battle time!


  • Sometimes it may be helpful to be a little assertive when it comes to fussy bubs… The more you give in, the more power they have being picky.


  • I think not entertaining fussy eaters is a good idea – don’t try to give them too many options or different meals as they will just get used to that. Try making different meals for the whole family instead or just catering to one child.


  • As long as my kids try the food I’m happy.


  • thanks for the info on your book, it may help


  • Cook once feed all – if only it were that simple.


  • Its good to minimise fussy children and all eat healthy


  • thanks for this, I seem to make a few different dishes when I do the cooking


  • great article . thanks for sharing


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