When children refuse to eat their meals, it can feel like a constant battle to ensure they are getting their daily dose of vitamins and minerals.


Sure, in an ideal world, our kids would eat everything that’s handed to them, but we know that's not realistic in most households. 


Our taste buds are constantly evolving, however, and foods your son or daughter may have hated at aged three can become more appealing as they grow.



Still, you can't put off indefinitely your child's nutrition needs and over all wellbeing while they come to terms with vegetables.


So if you do find yourself parenting a picky eater, the following five tips will help you out...



1. Don’t force them


If they don’t like what they’re eating, don’t force them to eat it. Keeping a child sitting at a table until they finish their meal is a little rigid, and it will most likely end up in a tantrum - which won’t be good for anybody.


It could also lead to feelings of guilt in your child or they could start hiding food. This in itself is unhealthy behaviour, and could even result in an eating disorder if ignored. Speak to your doctor if your son or daughter is continually refusing food.



2. Don’t give them another option


Giving a child another option at mealtimes allows them to refuse what you've cooked. If they don’t fancy the lunch or dinner that you have prepared, that’s fine, but don’t get up to make another one, otherwise the habit will continue.



3. Change up their meals


Give them a variety of fruits and vegetables every day so they can develop their taste buds.


Introduce new tastes and textures to spark their curiosity about different foods, and re-offer previously rejected combinations after a while - their tastes may have changed in the interim. 



4. Unwanted food is OK


If they find something they don’t want on their plate - such as a gherkin or tomato on a burger - they might react badly. Simply take the offending item off... and gently explain it hasn't contaminated the whole burger!

Don't make a big deal about it either - otherwise they may not eat ANY of the food offered. 



5. Get them involved


Teach them to cook, bring them shopping, ask them what they like and dislike and encourage them to try different foods. Why not organise a tasting evening with a few simple dishes from around the world for the whole family to try?


This will not only develop their knowledge about various cultures, it will also expand their taste buds and get them excited about what they are eating.


MummyPages expert Siobhan Berry suggests the following:




  • Offer a variety of foods
  • Introduce lumpy foods sooner rather than later
  • Don’t offer an alternative
  • Let them get messy
  • Eat together
  • Make it cute


“Try to eat together as a family. If your baby has eaten, give them some finger food, but always allow baby to join in at mealtimes. For toddlers and older children, make sure you are all eating the same meal."


"By sitting and eating a healthy meal with your children, you are being a good role model and demonstrating that food is good."



Hello Mama!
Help us help you by allowing us and our partners to remember your device in cookies to serve you personalized content and ads.

We're on a mission to help our mums and their families thrive by informing, connecting and entertaining.

Join us in our mission by consenting to the use of cookies and IP address recognition by us and our partners to serve you content (including ads) best suited to your interests, both here and around the web.

We promise never to share any other information that may be deemed personal unless you explicitly tell us it's ok.

If you want more info, see our privacy policy.