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Tips if your toddler is a fussy eater

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Once your baby becomes a toddler and starts eating meals and snacks like the rest of the family, dinnertime can sometimes become a bit of a battle. What do you do when they turn their nose up at everything you put in front of them? It might help to try following the tips and tricks of other parents and professionals who have come before you.

Top tips from other parents with fussy eaters

Tip #1: Keep letting them try

Photo of toddler eating a carrot

Photo of toddler eating a carrot

Even if your toddler hasn't liked something the first time, it doesn't mean they won't after a few more goes. They may get more interested over time. Try saying "well done" or give them a high five every time they try it again.

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Tip #2: Give them something new on the side

Giving your child something new to go along with their main meal is a great way to get them to try new things. And, they’ll be much happier knowing they don’t have to miss out on a tea they already love.

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Tip #3: Turn mealtimes into fun times

Trying new foods can be exciting, but also a bit daunting at times. Make sure you let your wee one know that they can play with their food at family meals, and that it is ok to get a bit messy! You might find this makes them much happier to try new things.

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Tip #4: Keep things simple

It’s easy for a toddler to feel overwhelmed by what’s on their plate. A great tip is to keep things nice and simple. Try sticking to two things, like mash and peas, for a smooth, tantrum-free teatime. 

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Tip #5: Feed them finger food

Finger food is a great way to get a toddler to feel more grown up. Fill little bowls with chopped veg, toast soldiers and cubes of cheese, so they can mix and match flavours.

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Tip #6: Let them pick

We all find mealtimes more fun when we’ve picked out our favourite foods. Letting your child choose between two veggies makes things much more exciting for them. It’s also a great distraction when you need to get on with the rest of your weekly food shop.

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Tip #7: Make it a game

Healthy eating might not seem like the most exciting thing in the world, but it can be made fun. Show your toddler how you can put a pea on your tongue and make it “disappear!”. Your toddler will soon want to try it, and before long you’ll be watching them make a whole bowl of peas vanish.

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Tip #8: Keep those munchies away

Photo of toddler eating a carrot

Photo of toddler eating a carrot

We can all get a little grumpy when we’re hungry. Add new foods into the mix, and it’s a recipe for disaster. Stay clear of any pre-dinner tantrums by slicing up some fruit and veg to keep them going while they wait.

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Tip #9: Show them what a star they are

Why not make your child feel really special for trying something new? Make them their very own star chart, and give them a shiny gold star every time they’re brave enough to try something new.

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What the parents say

What the professionals say

“We all have days when we don’t fancy what’s on our plate, and toddlers are no different. Sit down with them, offer small amounts of food, and if they use their fingers and get a bit messy, don’t panic. Remember, fingers were invented before knives and forks! Your toddler will have their moments, but most tots grow well – even those who don’t seem to eat everything. Don’t forget you can always ask for help from your health visitor.”

Margaret Duncan, Sure Start Health Visitor, Dundee

More information

For more helpful tips on how to try to get your toddler to eat well and try new foods, visit the Eat Better, Feel Better website.

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Food & Eating Fussy eating Toddler (1-3 years)

Last updated: 21 Aug, 2020