10 Helpful Parenting Tips For Feeding Fussy Eaters

Wondering how you can extend your love for healthy and wholesome food to your children? Encouraging kids to eat healthy, nutrient-rich food is no small task. Most days, it’s easier to give in to that bowl of macaroni than to prepare a veggie-filled meal only to receive the dreaded “I don’t like it” response.

So, how can we influence kids to eat healthier meals? After all, ensuring our kids are meeting their dietary requirements is a common concern among all parents of fussy eaters.

Together with Babysits, we've rattled our brains to bring you a list of our top 10 tips for encouraging kids to eat healthier. So next time you’re short on time and patience, you’ll have these helpful tips up your sleeve! 

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1. Hide the veggies! 

Do your fussy eaters make a “blegh!” face every time they see a vegetable? No worries! Veggies can be easily disguised in meals, as long as you get a bit sneaky with it. For example, try adding mashed carrots or broccoli to mashed potatoes or even mac and cheese. Tip: the smaller you chop them, the less likely your kids will notice. If your children refuse to eat pasta unless it has simple tomato sauce and cheese on top, you might like to puree your veggies before mixing it into the tomato sauce. The more discreet, the more likely you’ll be able to ensure they receive the nutrients they need.

2. Cook at home

Avoiding takeout might sound like an obvious tip, but busy families know oh too well how difficult it can be to have a home cooked meal prepared every night. Setting a meal plan, prepping ingredients ahead of time and serving dinner at a regular hour can help keep the kids on track and you feeling less stressed. Not to mention, eating-in is also a lot lighter on your pocket!

3. Get the kids involved

Cooking with mum or dad can be super exciting for children. By helping to get dinner ready, children can feel a sense of accomplishment and responsibility. Depending on their age, their set task could be as simple as washing the vegetables or measuring the ingredients for you.

By involving children in food preparation, you can help teach them valuable lessons on nutrition and dietary requirements. Let them know that carrots are good for their eyes, and spinach can make them grow strong!

4. Be their role model

Naturally, kids are likely to follow your lead. It’s best to be honest with yourself and your eating habits. If you’re often dieting, binge eating or eating takeout when time is short, children will often follow these habits as they reach adolescence and beyond.

5. Have healthy snacks at hand

Ensuring that healthy snacks for kids are accessible will help encourage healthy eating patterns. Keeping a fruit bowl stocked, healthy snacks on the counter and unhealthy alternatives hidden away can be a simple way to encourage healthy snacking.

6. Offer choices

Kids are often more excited by an idea when they think it’s their own. By asking them whether they’d prefer apple slices with yoghurt or carrots dipped in hummus, they get the autonomy to decide for themselves. You could also try involving them in your meal prepping. For example, ask “what should we make for dinner?” or bring them along for the grocery shop. 

7. Get creative with it

Kids, much like adults, eat with their eyes. If something looks fun, bright and colourful they’ll be far more interested in giving it a try. If you happen to have a bit of time on your hands, try preparing your fresh fruit and veg in a fun and engaging way. Take a look at Babysits’ creative snack suggestions for some great ideas for fussy eaters.

8. Add dip

One brilliant way to make boring fruit and veggie slices far more interesting to fussy eaters is to add a tasty dip. Healthy options include peanut butter, hummus, yoghurt-based dips, or cream cheese.

9. Reintroduce certain foods

Children are naturally suspicious of new food. Place a veggie on their plate that they haven’t tasted before, and they’ll most likely eyeball it before deciding they don’t like it. But don’t let this deter you! If you continue placing this food alongside other options on their plate every now and again, they’ll eventually feel inspired to give it a go.

10. Don't worry yourself

You might’ve employed every trick in this list but still can’t convince your fussy eater to eat the healthy food you’ve prepared. Don’t stress it. Children should eat 3-4 small meals per day, plus snacks in-between. As long as you’re providing a balance of food options that meets their dietary requirements throughout the day, you have nothing to worry about. 

This article was written in collaboration with Babysits - Australia’s babysitting community. Babysits provide a simple and transparent platform for finding local childminders near you.

Main feature image: @blissfulhealthwithemma

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