Schools 4 Health’s top 10 tips for parents of fussy eaters

We all want to help our children stay healthy and happy as they grow up and that includes making sure they eat a healthy, balanced diet. But many of us can struggle when our children have fussy eating habits or refuse to eat the food we put in front of them.

If you find mealtimes are a constant battle and are frustrated at your child’s eating habits, don’t despair. There are lots of things that you can do to help.

The Knowsley Schools 4 Health team, one our award sponsors, have shared with us their top 10 tips for feeding fussy children:

1. Give your child the same food as the rest of the family, but remember not to add salt to your child’s food and check the label of any food product you use to make family meals.

2. Eat your meals with your child if possible.

3. Serve your child small portions and praise them for eating, even if they only manage a little. And remember, your child may be a slow eater so be patient with them.

4. If your child rejects the food you give them, don’t force them to eat it. Just take the food away without commenting. Try to stay calm even if you feel very frustrated.

5. Don’t give your child too many snacks in between meals. Limit snacks to a milk drink and some fruit slices or a small cracker with a slice of cheese, for example.

6. It is best not to use food as a reward. Your child may start to think of sweets as ‘nice’ and vegetables as ‘nasty’. Instead, reward them with a trip to the park or promise to play a game with them.

7. Make mealtimes enjoyable and not just about eating. Sit down and chat about other things.

8. If you know any other children of the same age who are good eaters, invite them round for tea. A good example can work well, as long as you don’t talk too much about how good the other children are.

9. Remember that children’s tastes change over time. One day they may hate something but a month later they may love it.

10. Changing the form a food is served in may make it more acceptable. For example, a child might refuse cooked carrots but they might enjoy raw, grated carrot.

5 Boroughs Partnership NHS Foundation Trust’s Schools 4 Health team is working in partnership with Knowsley primary schools to improve the health and wellbeing of children and families in a fun and interactive way. Their focus is on increasing physical activity and promoting healthy eating at every opportunity, both during the school day and after school.

The Schools 4 Health team is sponsoring the ‘Inspirational Primary School’ award at this year’s Educate Awards in Liverpool on 20 November.