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Fussy eating

A lot of children don’t like tasting new and unfamiliar foods, and  there can be many reasons for this. This is called food neophobia. It’s a part of normal development and many children go through this phase. It can start soon after the child’s first birthday and can continue until school age.

We believe if you encourage your child to interact with foods, without the pressure to try them, that eating can become fun and rewarding. 

Here are our top tips for helping your child to interact with new foods. 

  • Encourage your child to accept new foods gradually, a little at a time on a separate plate. Keep trying as a new food can take 14-20 times to become accepted.
  • Expand on the accepted range of food very slowly, by changing a little at a time such as the colour or shape.
  • Create a positive mealtime environment free of stress, and try to eat together and be a positive role model.
  • Establish a routine of regular meal and snack times, so that they know what to expect.
  • Encourage your child to relax at mealtimes, and keep distractions to a minumum.
  • Sensory play is a great way to give your child the chance to use their senses such as touch, smell and sight to explore and interact with food and non-food materials. In time this can increase their tolerance to certain textures, smells or tastes. 

And remember to celebrate any progress, whether big or small!

We know that this is a process that can be challenging for both the parent/carer and the child. Start off slowly. Try to make it a part of your everyday routine so that it all becomes normal for everyone.

You can find more detail, tips and ideas in our Fussy Eating: how to help a child accept new foods booklet which you can download below.

Remember that progress can differ from child to child, and strategies should be tried for at least 6 months to be sure if they are working or not.