A TOP child nutritionist has shared ten tips to help parents deal with fussy eaters - and they are surprisingly simple.
Mandy Sacher started learning about nutrition after the birth of her first child in 2010 - when she realised there was surprisingly little information about child nutrition available to first time parents.
Since then she has helped parents and expectant mums feed their littl'uns nutritious and healthy food, and help them develop good habits that will last their entire lives.
Speaking to Mamamia.com.au, Mandy said that children mostly go through a fussy stage aged between 2 and 6, and how parents deal with it can have a huge impact on how willing they are to try new foods.
She said: "Each family’s situation is unique and success with mealtimes needs to be measured accordingly.
"For one child, moving from one vegetable to two vegetables daily is a huge success. For another child, eating a meatball in sauce is a big win.
"Change does not happen overnight, we need to recognise that it’s a slow process, especially where fussy eating is concerned.
"Praising small changes along the way is of utmost importance."
Mandy says that it is important to let children play with food so that they get used to the touch and smell of foods they aren't certain about.
Allowing them to have 'messy play' away from the dinner table will also take the pressure away from feeding time.
Ten top tips for dealing with fussy eaters
- Desensitise children to new food by asking them to help with the shopping
- Make new foods familiar by repeatedly serving them in a calm environment
- Let children indulge in messy play away from the dinner table
- Eat as a family and make mealtimes relaxed
- Get children excited about nutrition and vitamins
- Work with what they already like - but switch it up
- Offer meal choices to children so they feel like they have a say
- Serve a small portion on a large plate
- Make meal times fun
- Praise and encourage children - and don't be afraid to use star charts and outings to celebrate milestones
She says that repeatedly offering new flavours and textures calmly will help children get used to them, and to switch up how favoured foods are cooked and presented, for instance roasting carrots or cutting them in to shapes.
Sitting down and eating as a family is important as it will help children see how adults and siblings enjoy eating foods they aren't sure of, and will help take away any meal time anxiety.
Meal times should also be fun, and children encouraged to learn and understand about vitamins and nutrition from a young age.