3 Clever Tricks To Manage Fussy Eaters

If your little one spits the dummy every time you serve up a new food, you’ll love these mum-approved fussy food tips for toddlers …

Practical Parenting Parenting Reviews Editor / April 05 2023

You may think your little one is being fussy, but research shows that you may need to offer a new food to children up to 10 times before they will try it. Add to that the fact that your toddler may love a food one day but wont touch it the next, and it's little wonder meal times can become stressful! 

But stressed-out brekkie, lunch and dinner never helped anyone - in fact, they only lead to more difficult meal times. So with that in mind, we're loving these tried and tested ways to make food fun while keeping your toddler happy, healthy and interested in trying new flavours. 


Make meal-time fun!

There are loads of ways to make meal-time fun. Try making new fun names for foods such as curly hair grated carrots, squiggly wiggly grated cheese or Christmas tree broccoli. Make simple games, just like the aeroplane spoonful that propels its way through the air and lands in your little one’s mouth, or leap frog carrot circles across the mash potato, through the green bean forest, dodge the canon ball peas and slide over the corn cob before landing in the mouth. A little imagination can go a long way.


Turn a blind eye to the mess!

Oh it’s hard isn’t it? But letting your child taste, smell, see, touch and experience textural play in its full sense is actually an integral part of learning, development and of course, kick-starting those taste buds! Let them squish the food through their fingers. Let them lick their fingers for 'first tastes'. Let them smell the Brussels sprouts - or throw them across the room. Let them miss their mouth as they attempt to load their mouth with a spoonful of mashed pumpkin. Set them up outside on warmer days in a plastic or easy wipe down highchair, then hose down the mess. Or, if indoors, pop a large plastic sheet on the floor under the highchair to contain mess (you can buy them by the metre from Spotlight, or get plastic floor mats from IKEA)


Let them feed themselves

Little ones may appear to be highly dependent, but when it comes to food, give them a tasty morsel to hold (as opposed to mashing everything or cutting into tiny pieces)  and chances are, the first thing they’ll do is pop that morsel in their mouth. Or, take their time and perhaps dip a finger into the mash or soup or puree and then have a little lick first. Finger foods like chicken or fish strips are great. Slice apples or pears when your little one is ready for that stage, or try yoghurt pouches, banana, mandarin with the skin peeled and other age appropriate foods that are easy for your toddler to pick-up. 

Practical Parenting Tip: Toddler's need a great range of essential nutrients and vitamins for healthy development - which can be difficult when the only word they know is 'NO!' Blackmores Toddler Milk Drink contains prebiotics (GOS) and essential vitamins A, C, D & E to help support your toddler's growth and development. Made using the highest quality ingredients, the Blackmores range is made using premium Australian milk and is suitable for toddlers aged 12+ months. Visit the Blackmores.com.au to request your free sample.

Franki Hobson is a women’s lifestyle journalist and editor with more than twenty years’ experience. Her areas of expertise include parenting and health and well-being. Franki has two gorgeous boys, Maxwell, 10, and Louis, 1 ½.