Fussy eating and toddlers are a tricky combination! Making sure a fussy toddler is eating all their greens can be a battle…and that can leave us mums feeling worried about whether our little one is getting all the nutrition they need. But there are ways to help support your child’s nutritional needs (and give you peace of mind when they refuse the green beans again!), from easy recipes to other tips.
If you’ve ever spent a frustrating night begging your fussy eater child to eat just one bite of carrot, or a morning worrying when they won’t eat much at breakfast, you’ll know the kind of endless cycle of concern fussy eating can cause. Nutrition is a never-ending consideration for mums and dads.
If any of these sound familiar to you, you’ll know that the list of questions and anxieties never ends.
- What can we feed our children that they’ll enjoy?
- Are they getting enough variety?
- Will they be able to eat that by themselves?
- Will it provide them with the nutrition they need?
- Is there too much sugar in that meal or snack?
- Will their tummy be full enough for a good night’s rest?
For fussy kids, there’s lots of options you can explore. You can try some tips and tricks to encourage kids to try a wider variety of foods, experiment with recipes or (in addition to solids) try using S-26 Gold Alula Toddler Milk Drink to feel confident your child will receive the nutrition they need to support their rapid growth.
Fussy eating and toddlers: Recipes to try
Mini Chicken Vegetable Pizzas
- 2 English muffins, halved
- 2 tbsp tomato paste, salt reduced
- 2 tsp dried oregano
- 1 chicken breast, cooked and sliced
- ½ red capsicum, sliced
- ½ cup mushrooms, sliced
- ½ cup mozzarella cheese, grated
Preheat oven to 180°C. Line a baking tray with paper. Spread tomato paste on each muffin halve and sprinkle with dried oregano. Top each muffin with chicken, capsicum, mushroom and cheese. Bake the pizzas in the oven for 10 minutes or until cheese is golden melted.
- 1 cup pasta, cooked
- 1 tsp olive oil
- ¼ cup cooked peas
- ¼ cup pumpkin, cut into small cubes and roasted
- ½ cup cherry tomatoes, cut into quarters
- ¼ cup corn kernels, cooked
- Parsley, to garnish
Mix the ingredients together in a bowl. Pasta can be served heated or cold. Top with parsley when serving.
More recipes? Find some more fun ideas here.
Fussy eating and toddlers: The different types and what to do
The problem with fussy eaters is you may have a little one who is developing or has developed a few eating habits that may lead to inadequate nutrition or health complications such as constipation, iron deficiency or slow weight gain and development.
Have habits like eating small, sometimes inadequate volumes of food, eating very slowly and never finishing the plate.
- Add healthy fats such as avocado, olive oil, hommus, nut butters and nut meals (e.g. almond meal) to their diet
- Feed your little one more frequently as their stomachs are very small (about the size of their fist). Aim to offer food every 2-2.5 hours
- Restrict liquids that they may fill up on around meal times including water and milk, instead offering these after their meal
- Limit or avoid ‘filler foods’ that don’t offer much in the way of nutrients such as plain or savoury crackers, sweet biscuits, crisps, fruit juice
A fear of new foods (neophobic)
Little ones who ‘know what they like’ and ‘like what they know’ more common between the ages of 2-6 years.
- Children may need to see foods more than 10-15 times before they are familiar with them
- You may need to take them through a few steps to trying a new food, like touching the food or holding it in your teeth
Avoiding whole food groups
Kids who refuse whole food group such as dairy or vegetables and salads.
- Keep a food record of what your little one eats to help you to pinpoint missing nutrients
- If missing out on fibre – try adding some grated or blended vegetables to dishes, use legumes such as red lentils or cannellini beans
- If avoiding meats – try including eggs, tofu and legumes with their meals to add protein and iron to their diet
Failing to progress to chunks
Some kids like puree and blended foods smooth texture and don’t progress well onto chunks and finger foods.
- Start by adding very small lumps to purees such as a few pieces of cooked rice/risoni/grated cheese
- Add small pieces chopped banana or avocado to yoghurts and purees
- Trial soft crackers with spreads such as hommus, avocado and smooth peanut butter as these crackers are easy to bite down on
- Encourage biting on a face washer in the bath or the back of their toothbrush to build strength in their jaw helping them to bite down
Some littlies love their milk so much that they leave very little room for any solid foods.
- The recommendation is offer drinks (including milk) in a cup from 1 year. Encourage water from a starter cup from 6 months
- Food should always be given before offering milk, by doing this you will probably find they will eat more and drink less
- Offer other forms of dairy and alternatives to supply calcium such as cheese and yoghurt
In addition to solids
For any fussy eater, no matter what the type, you can consider a supplement drink to feel confident your child will receive the nutrition they need to support their rapid growth (in addition to their solids). S-26 Gold Alula Toddler Milk Drink helps support a balanced diet with omega 3 DHA and 16 vitamins and minerals. It has no added artificial colours or preservatives and does not contain sucrose. (And it’s easily available at supermarkets and chemists!)
S-26 GOLD ALULA TODDLER Milk Drink. S-26 Gold Alula Toddler milk drink* is suitable for toddlers from one year old. It’s rich in age-appropriate vitamins and minerals, plus it contains omega-3 DHA. *Toddler milk drink is a supplementary food when dietary intakes of energy and nutrients may be inadequate. More details and nutritional information can be found here.