Fussy eating is normal. Most toddlers will refuse to try new or unfamiliar foods at some stage. A regular routine for meals and snacks can help toddlers to develop healthy eating habits. For example, 3 meals a day with small snacks in between.
It’s common for toddlers to eat different amounts from day to day and meal to meal. Their appetite will change as they grow and develop. Children will learn to know when they are hungry and full if they are allowed to control how much they eat.
Unless they are sick, a child will eat when hungry.
It can take 10-15 tries before they accept a new food. Be patient and keep trying.
Food should be enjoyed even if it’s not all eaten. For a toddler, enjoying food means touching, feeling and playing with it. So, let your child feed themselves and use their hands, even if it’s messy.
Setting a time limit of about 20 minutes for meals is useful. Any longer and it won’t be fun. If your child hasn’t eaten the food in this time and doesn’t want to eat any more, take it away and don’t offer more food until the next meal or snack time.
Fussy eaters are often slow eaters, so try not to rush them. This will cause stress. Just take the food away when they don't want more.
Other causes of fussy eating
Fussy behaviour can also be due to other reasons. For example, teething or lack of sleep.
If you are concerned about your toddler’s fussy behaviour, speak to your GP, child and family health nurse or a dietitian.