This is a detailed instruction guide on how to feed children who are fussy eaters. Many of us stay at home parents are also working at home as well now and spending hours trying to feed our little fussy eaters can be far too time consuming so here are some tried and true tips and insight on how to understand and deal with our kids when they don't like to eat.

Parent and child mindset

When trying to feed children try to never let them know if you're upset or in a hurry, settle your emotions and try to stay focused and relaxed during feeding time because if your children feel rushed or nervous it can effectively kill their appetite. If you're in the habit of feeding your kids baby/toddler foods or kids meals, your children can start to feel like it's not as good as the "adult" food you eat. This can trigger their rejection of the food. However if you try to feed them some of your food and they eat it than feed them what you're eating and if they decide after a taste or a meal that they don't want it any more, just go back to feeding them their food again or something different. It's healthy to switch things around like this and much less stressful to readily except this kind of fluctuation.

Conditioning your young children to eat

 If your child just won't eat, try not serving or feeding them at meal time and just serve yourself food and start eating, telling your child "If you want some of mine you can come have some with me." Some fussy eaters really enjoy "social eating" this way and it has the added effect of greater parent/child bonding. Getting your child to accompany you during their food preparation can get their appetite going. Ask them to hand you the carrot/potato or banana, give you the salt, throw the peals in the garbage, etc. Turn the oven light on so they can see what's baking in the oven.

A lot of people find that children won't have much of an appetite if they drink before eating, some children however, can't work up a good appetite without being properly hydrated. If you've tried everything, the last thing to consider is your child's activity level. It's much easier to feed children if they've gotten a lot of exercise, this way their metabolism is put into high gear (even with fussy eaters) because they've burnt up a lot of calories and need to replace them for growth.

Feeding approaches

When you think of feeding your kids you typically envision using either a baby's safety spoon or regular tea spoon as your tool of choice. To avoid unnecessary frustration it's better not to slavishly stick to spoon feeding with fussy eaters. Some children prefer to be fed by your hand, just make sure you wash your hands before feeding time especially after diaper changes or visits to the bathroom and keep your nails short and clean. Other children like to be fed food that won't get their faces messy, cut pieces of apple, pieces of chicken, cubes of cheese etc. However, if none of these approaches work, you've still got two options:

  •  One. (works especially well with toddlers) use your blender to puree the food into a smoothie, whether it's fruit and yogurt or a nice vegetable soup and get them to suck it up with a straw you've cut in half and...
  • Two. (an awesome time saver with infants) using an oral syringe to carefully squirt about 1ml - 5ml of finely pureed food or regular baby food (with a pourable consistency) into the cheek area of your baby's mouth, while being careful not to bump his or her baby teeth.

Temperature and texture considerations

Temperature and texture can also effect a child who is a fussy eater. When feeding children, test the texture and palettability of the food's temperature. Maybe if the food is thick, your child would like it better a little looser so you can add water, milk, broth or juice, whichever would be more suitable. If the food is on the runnier side, maybe your child would prefer it thicker so that it can have more substance. Foods that can be served cold may not be to the liking of a baby with a sensitive mouth so a little warming up of the food usually helps them to accept it. When you feed children warm food and they're turned off by it, try feeding the food to them at a cold/luke warm temperature instead. Certain kinds of food in pureed form can make children feel a bit nauseous when warm but will better resemble pudding for them if served cold.

Hopefully with all these tips on how to feed children, you'll be able to much easier cope with and nourish your fussy eaters and even save more time in the process.

For useful ideas on what to feed children who are fussy eaters read my other parenting article at: