How To Handle “Fussy” Eaters

Asian baby sitting on the floor with play tea set and woven basket

Let’s chat fussy eating. Firstly, know that if you have a ”fussy eater” it is not your fault and definitely not caused by anything that you have done. In fact, up to 50% of all toddlers will be considered “fussy eaters” at some point. Although some level of fussiness is normal that doesn’t mean that there aren’t things that you can do to support them and help them progress through this phase.

So, here are our top 5 tips to support fussy eaters and to take the stress out of mealtimes for you, because that is important too!


  1. Stop calling them fussy eaters
    Our little ones are sponges and will often take on what we say and feel. Calling a child “fussy” isn’t going to help them become more confident eaters.
  2. Remember your role, it is not your job to make your kid eat.
    Yes, you read that correctly it is not your job to make them eat! This is called the division of responsibility, where parents decide what’s on offer and when and it is your little one’s responsibility to decide how much to eat from what is on offer. This really helps to take the stress out of mealtimes, as it is no longer on you to make your little one eat what’s on their plate.
  3. Get them involved.
    This could be as simple as giving them the opportunity to get messy and feed themselves, or for very little people it could even be feeding you. For our older, more independent kids it might mean unpacking groceries, chopping veggies, getting out the chef hat and apron, planning the meal or serving it up! These all count as exposures to food and will help them gain confidence with new foods in a stress-free environment where they aren’t expected to eat.
  4. Take the pressure off!
    Pressure comes in many shapes and forms. It can be using food as a reward or bribe, for example “if you eat your carrots, you can have dessert” or “look at your Dad eating all of his chicken!”. This can make our little people feel like they need to eat to please us or that a food is so bad that you need a reward to get through it! Often using dessert as a reward for eating vegetables doesn’t help them like vegetables, it just makes them like the reward food more! Even things as simples as “it’s yummy” is a form of pressure, as is praising them for taking a bite. Instead, try to keep the food chat to a minimum at dinner and instead focus on other things! If you want to chat about the food keep it simple; talk about the colour, flavour or sound it makes when you take a bite!
  5. Family mealtimes.
    Eating with your little one, when you can you, is one of the best things you can do to help with fussy eating. Remember that you are their biggest role model, so by simply eating the same food at the same time you are letting them see that the food is okay and safe. There is no need to tell them how yummy it is, simply seeing you eat something they don’t usually like or haven’t tried before is super helpful for them.

When to get help with fussy eating?

Contrary to popular belief not all kids will just grow out of a fussy eating phase. If you say “oh yeah, this is me!” to any of the following then you may need some more 1:1 support to get things back of track.

Are you finding that:

  • The numbers of foods they are eating is becoming shorter and shorter.
  • This phase has been going on for months or even years.
  • It is incredibly stressful to feed your family and it makes you anxious to think about mealtimes.

If that sounds like you, definitely reach out for a consultation to take the stress out of mealtimes! It is never too late to tackle fussy eating, but it can be really hard to know what to do. Remember that you’re not alone, so many families find picky eating a real challenge.



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