How to deal with a fussy eater

How to deal with fussy eater

At some point of time, most of the parents had struggled to know how to deal with fussy a eater. Fussy eating (also known as choosy eating) is a very common behavior among the kids. Being a mom of an acute fussy eating toddler, I kept on doing trial and error methods to deal with my fussy eating toddler. We have seen that most of the time during gatherings mommies major topic of discussion is: “How to deal with a fussy eater kid”. And yes!! I was not exceptional to this.

Sometimes it was very disheartening for me to see few blessed parents whose kids had developed very good food habits. But gradually I realized there is nothing to be disappointed. As kids differ from each other and they take their own time to cope with these things. Same as we parent need time to understand that no two kids are same but may be few of their problems are common.

A parenting website known as raising children had explained about fussy eater and fussy eating. According to them, fussy eating is a very common habit among toddlers. It is a phase in their developmental journey which fades away as they grow old.

Fussy eating habits

It is very usual in kids to be a fussy eater that is showing dislike to some colors, shapes or texture of any specific food. They strongly deny taking a single bite of them. They developed a habit of choosing a particular food among various dishes and eat that only. And for the next few days that food will be on top in the list of favourite foods and suddenly they won’t touch that food again. Sticking to some particular food and reluctant to eat other varieties of food leads to lack of nutrients among the kids. As a result, it becomes a struggle for a parent to deal with these fussy kids during meal time.

Few years back I remember I lost my motivation to cook something tasty and healthy. Because I knew my all efforts will go in vain when I will see my daughter’s grumpy face during meal time. And sometimes it was tough for me to keep calm after seeing her infuriating face over the dinning table.

You may also like : How To Calm Your Anger with Kids

How to deal with fussy eater

Though all kids are different and the way of tackling them can also be unique but here are few ways that can help you deal with fussy eater. These will aid you to encourage your kids to become a healthy and happy eater.

Encourage them to try new food

New things always attract everyone, food that has a new colour or any different shapes will surely attract the kids to have a bite of that food. Funny shapes of cartoon, stars , moon, flowers cut outs from any fruit or vegetable sandwich can be a wonderful trick to make them eat that.

A colorful healthy food platter to deal with a fussy eater
Healthy colorful platter for kids

In an experiment Cornell researchers found that a plate of different colors of food are very appealing to kids.

Don’t feed forcefully

Its proven that things that are done forcibly never results in a positive way. Whenever we force our children to eat something that they don’t have any mood to taste, they feel like a burden to swallow that food. Sometime they cry while eating that particular food and it causes vomiting too. And they would never ever love that food again. They will be scared of that discomfort they felt while eating that particular food.

Don’t bribe

Bribing kids for eating something healthy is not at all a good idea. Most often parents do the mistake of offering something of kids choice (mostly junk) after they finished their healthy meal. As a result kids don’t show any interest for the food they ate, they just take it as a task to win their candy or something else according to their wish. Usually this practice is not fruitful for long run. They won’t develop the habit of healthy eating in this way, they just focus on the reward.

We need to eat ourselves what we want them to eat

Kids are very expert in following adults. They assume that whatever big people are doing, they are very much interesting. Very quickly they try to follow them. So it is very necessary for parents to eat healthy so that kids will follow that too. Kids learn from what we do rather than what we say. This way they can have interest in the food that we are eating, and they would love to try it.

If options are given, that should be our choice

It is always suggestible that the options you are keeping as a backup that should be a healthy one too. Whenever we are packing raw vegetable sandwich for the fussy eating kid’s snack box, the option should be fruits. So that if they don’t eat the vegetable, they will have the fruits, at least they choosing the healthy one.

Keep calm

At the end of the day we want a relaxing and a happy healthy meal time. We believe happiness is laughing around the dinner table, not setting a battleground for both parents and kids. We should always keep in mind that fussy eating is a phase which will pass, we just need to keep patience and prepare them for healthy food habits.


We should never burden ourselves and our kids too to accomplish healthy food project. We should not expect an overnight change in a child’s eating habit, but our small try we do each day will build a healthy eater for lifelong. So go ahead and have a happy & healthy meal time with your family!!



  1. Smelly socks and garden peas

    We have a ex-fussy eater and a current very slow eater here. We found, with both, that using a clock has worked well. They have a certain amount of time to their meal, say 30 minutes, and then it’s done and they can have healthy puddings. If they want a treat dessert, they need to be done by the end of the time they have.
    This break almost all of the recommendations you make! But it worked for us and our older son now eats a great variety of foods – like you said, setting an example is key. Our younger son is good on variety, just super slow but he’s getting there.

  2. Katrina Crandall

    Our daughter is six and seems to be increasing in her pickiness about food despite our consistent efforts to introduce new foods to her. Thanks for your article and tips – we will continue our patience and consistency and will keep modeling good eating habits!

  3. Sierra

    My daughter is a super picky eater, especially when it comes to veggies. Dinner time is a battle, as she will often be the last at the table. There is a lot to be said about force feeding. It only back fires. She gets to choices for dinner she can eat what we eat or she doesn’t have food until the next meal time – but I refuse to make her a separate dish each time! Thanks for sharing on such a difficult topic!

  4. Darcey

    My daughter is 4 and she’s been a picky eater lately. She doesn’t like some of the things she used to like and seems to only want the same few foods. I try to give her options at meal times if I haven’t decided what I’m going to cook, I’ll give her two or three options of foods that she can have. She responds better if she can pick her meal or at least some of it. It also helps when she cooks with me. Thanks for sharing.

  5. Jacqueline

    This is such great advice! If my Little Guy hasn’t eaten well for breakfast, his first snack, and lunch all in a row, then we skip the post-nap snack and just try to get dinner on the table a little earlier so that he’s not starving, but is certainly hungry enough to eat a good meal.

  6. Shyla

    Wonderful tips. As the mother of a former fussy eat I can say that many of these are totally spot on. What worked for me was discussing the healthy benefits of the food with my child. Honestly when she learned (and I learned in the process) how much nutrition was in her food, and what good it could do for her body she was much more interested in eating it. Children absorb so much information and as adults we sometimes forget to explain things to them. Also having options or alternates that were also healthy from time to time was a help. My child also appreciated when I would compliment her for eating her food and would tell her what a good job she did. Encouragement goes a long way! Sorry for the length comment, but your post is amazing and so many parents could benefit from reading it.

    All the best,

  7. Monica

    I think keep calm is the hardest because it can definitely be frustrating but nonetheless it’s really good and smart advice. Definitely need to work on it. Thanks for sharing this

  8. Susannah

    I’m absolutely dealing with this with my 21 month old. Thank you for the reassurance. Stressing doesn’t make it better but it’s hard to remember that ! She’s also still nursing a ton so I pick my battles.

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