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04th Apr 2024

Research estimates over 50% of kids are picky eaters — but it can be helped

Jody Coffey

Picky eater

If you have a picky eater, we hope these tips can help

Research has estimated that around 59 per cent of children are considered ‘picky eaters’.

A ‘picky eater’ refers to a person who only eats a limited variety of foods and will resist trying new foods.

While a child’s finicky attitude towards mealtimes can be a source of frustration for parents, thankfully, research has shown that it is unlikely to impact overall nutrition or their growth.

However, the end goal for parents would be to see their little fusspot eating as much of a balanced diet as possible without any resistance (not to mention the disheartening rejection after cooking or preparing their food).

So, with this in mind, we have a few failsafe tips for nudging them in the right direction.

Make it fun and frivolous for them and you:

Put their lunch in a muffin, cupcake or ice tray

Credit: Canva

This will bring out your creative side and entice your little one’s palette.

Pop colourful foods from all the food groups into a muffin tray – think egg bits, fruit cups, and healthy cupcakes, there’s no rules!

It makes a child feel like they’re in control of which food to try and, eventually, eat.

For a picky eater, seeing what has gone into their food can remove a lot of the fear, anxiety, or resistance toward it.

Make everything a ‘mini’

Credit: Canva

Sometimes it just a matter of size!

Try out miniature versions of foods and see if it makes a difference to how your child sees their meal.

Handheld foods like burgers, sandwiches, sausages rolls, and wraps can be cut down to smaller portions.

Similarity, consider cutting up protein meats such as chicken, beef, and fish and place less on the plate.

Pick up some bright or novelty toothpicks

Credit: Canva

If it’s visually stimulating, use it!

Something as simple as a novelty toothpick that looks like an umbrella can help put a positive spin on a meal for a picky eater.

Adding colourful toothpicks to fruit pieces, cheese pieces and toast guarantees more fun, which, hopefully, will guarantee more mouthfuls.

Make food fun again

Credit: Canva

Take advanatge of your child’s wondeful imagination by transferring it to their plate.

If a child view their meals as something that makes them smile, laugh, or be excited, it will completely change the dynamic at the table.

Bread, for example, can be cut into animal shapes; berries magically turn into flowers; cucumber sticks into grass; blueberries become rabbit eyes; carrots are whiskers.

Peanut butter and honey or Agavé syrup are great glue for sticking food together.

Get creative and enjoy!