Parents share tales of fussy eaters

Young girl eating a meal Image copyright School Food Plan

If your child is particular about what they eat, it may not be down to your parenting.

Some children are genetically programmed to be fussy eaters according to research carried out at University College, London.

Parents have been sharing their experiences and tips for dealing with the challenges.

Suzy Chandler and daughter Tamzin - Milton Keynes

"My seven-year-old daughter Tamzin is a fussy and a slow eater - the extreme opposite of mum and dad.

"She will love something for weeks and then suddenly hate it.

"For some reason, she's happy to eat uncooked pasta.

"However, my daughter will not eat anything with gravy or savoury sauce of any type but loves custard, yoghurt and milk.

"School lunches can be challenging so she often takes 'dry' food such as Parma ham.

"She is a very slow eater and often leaves food in her mouth for minutes at a time before chewing and swallowing.

"On average it takes one hour for her to eat, enjoy and finish (hopefully) her evening meal.

"Our dinner is now earlier than it used to be and we just offer her food and then sit back, relax and wait whilst she eats her dinner alongside us!

"Thank goodness for chicken wings, broccoli and carrots which are always favourites.

"Fortunately, Tamzin is willing to try anything. On a recent stay in London she ate and thoroughly enjoyed Rockefeller oysters, pig's trotters, suckling pig, whelks, prawns, Peking duck, prawn crackers and escargot to name a few (not all at the same time)!

"I think the key is to be patient with your child."

Bryan Eadington and daughter Violet - Manchester

Image copyright Bryan Eadington

"My daughter Violet is great with vegetables, she will eat almost any of them.

"Meat, however, is a different story. She will only eat certain meats that have to be prepared in certain ways.

"For example, she will not eat chicken nuggets, chicken breast, chicken thigh or chicken wings. However she will eat chicken pops and chicken breast diced in a pie.

"When it comes to school meals, Violet will eat vegetable sandwiches as well as fruit.

"We're expecting another child so hopefully, he or she won't be as fussy!"

Tips to cope with fussy young eaters

  • Eat your meals together as a family if possible
  • Give small portions and praise your child for eating, even if they only manage a little
  • If your child rejects the food, don't force them to eat it. Just take the food away without comment and try to stay calm
  • Your child may be a slow eater so be patient
  • Don't give too many snacks between meals
  • Try changing the form a food comes in - for example, try cooked carrots instead of raw or grated carrot

Source: NHS Choices

Lauren Middleton and son Cameron - Eastbourne

"Ever since he was a baby, Cameron has always been a fussy eater, making himself sick and refusing to eat dinners I put in front of him.

"I used to get myself so worked up and so upset that it was my fault. I now just give him what I know he eats.

"I will always put stuff he doesn't eat on his plate and try and get him eating new foods, but he refuses.

"He doesn't eat any vegetables, meat, rice, mash or food together like pasta and sauce.

"If a meal has a sauce, I have to sieve it so it's smooth or he makes himself sick, but fortunately, he'll eat fruit.

"Cameron has just started school but will only take jam sandwiches. Luckily, his teachers are understanding.

"My brother is now 25 and he has also always been a fussy eater so maybe Cameron gets it from him.

"However, Cameron's sister eats anything but this can make dinner times difficult and stressful as I always have to make Cameron a different meal."

Stephenie Whitcher and son Alfie - Devon

Image copyright Stephenie Whitcher

"Our son Alfie is nearly three years old and is so fussy that he only eats certain types of crackers, certain makes of crisps, yoghurt and raisins as well as savoury and sweet popcorn.

"We have followed all the advice for fussy eaters but nothing works. We have also tried giving him fresh fruit and vegetables but he just will not eat it. He won't even touch it.

"The advice about offering a certain food at least 15 times before they will try it definitely doesn't work. He has been given peas and sweetcorn at least once a day for the last 18 months and he still won't try them!"

"We are at our wits end."

By Bernadette McCague UGC & Social News team

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