How To Make Mealtimes More Fun For Your Fussy Eater
Trying to get a picky toddler to eat anything other than dinosaur-shaped chicken nuggets for tea is a food war no parent wants to face! Mealtime battles with a fussy eater can be exhausting, but with a dash of creativity and a pinch of patience, you can turn these moments into memorable family experiences.
6 Mealtime Tips For Fussy Eaters
The idea is to make mealtimes feel less like a chore (for the kids and the grown-ups!) and more like a celebration of flavours and fun. Here are a few top tips to help you turn the tables and make your family mealtimes a delicious adventure!
How do I fix my toddler's picky eating?
Take the pressure off and make mealtimes more playful! Try creative plating, get your toddler involved in the cooking or dishing up, introduce new foods alongside their favourites, organise themed family dinners (think Taco Tuesdays or homemade pizza night), and make up silly names for foods. Let’s dig in to find out more…
1. Creative Plating
First impressions matter, especially on the dinner plate! Serve up a mealtime masterpiece by turning veggies into smiley faces, arrange fruits into their favourite book characters (all you need is a few grapes and a strawberry for the Hungry Caterpillar!), or make animal-shaped sandwiches. Turning their plate into a canvas makes mealtime a more enjoyable experience, which can have a hugely positive effect on their eating habits.
2. Interactive Dining
Get your toddler involved in the food prep, cooking or dishing up. You could set up a mini breakfast buffet or suppertime salad bar full of tasty ingredients and let your kiddo take their pick! Allowing your child to make their own decisions can go a long way in encouraging them to try foods they may have typically avoided if they had already been plated up for them.
3. Veggie Adventures
Make veggies cool by dreaming up funny names and stories for the greens on your kiddie’s plate. It could be the Saga of the Superhero Sprouts, the Crazy Carrot Chronicles, or the Tales of the Talking Tomato! Transforming ordinary dinners into exciting adventures takes the boredom out of healthy eating and shakes up kids’ aversion to these kinds of foods.
4. Food Familiarity
Build up your picky eater’s food familiarity by treating them to a play kitchen and some toy food. Our stunning new Simply Scandi Kitchen is kitted out with an oven, a twin hob, storage cupboard, wooden pots and serving spoons. Then you can accessorise it with a bunch of wooden play food, such as our Vegetable Crate, Wooden Meat & Fish, Cutting Fruits Set and Dairy Delivery.
5. Colourful Conversations
Get chatting around the dinner table and involve your toddler in the conversation. Ask them questions that relate to their mealtime experience, like ‘What is your favourite colour on the plate?’ or ‘What animals would you like to invite to lunch?’. Actively engaging them in lively discussions fosters positive feelings around food, which can help to squash fussy eating behaviours over time.
6. Texture Exploration
Make it a sensory experience by inviting your littlen to explore a variety of foods with contrasting textures. Think crunchy cucumbers, smooth dips, soft cheeses and so on. You can introduce these different foods gradually if your child is particularly sensitive to textures, and it’s always a good idea to pair new foods with favourites you know they love to avoid them becoming overwhelmed.
What not to say to a picky eater?
Try not to fall into the trap of voicing these 7 pushy phrases often heard at family mealtimes:
- Just one more bite
- You can have dessert once you’ve finished your dinner
- You won’t grow big and strong if you don’t eat it
- But I thought you loved peas?
- You need to eat it, it's healthy!
- Can you just try it?
- Stop being so fussy!
Instead, try these language swaps:
Patience Over Pressure
When a toddler is about to throw a fistful of mashed potato at your face, patience is easier said than done! However, staying calm and removing the pressure around mealtimes is a great way to keep these occasions lighthearted and relaxed, which can play a big part in building positive food associations for our kids.
Of course, it takes time to raise confident little eaters, so our top tips may not be an overnight success, but they should help to give children some autonomy and independence around their food choices and eating habits.
If you’ve got any little wins that have worked on your picky eaters, share your tried and tested tips in the comments section below!