The disruption in routine and meal times during holidays can be tough to navigate if you have a fussy eater. Add to that comments and advice from family and friends and you may just feel like giving up or giving in. We know the struggle is real and want to share with you a few ideas on how to not only survive but ENJOY mealtimes with your fussy eater this holiday season.
1. Be kind to yourself:
Tips on how to deal with fussy eaters don’t often start with this one, but as mums of fussy eaters we believe this is an important one that needs addressing. Acknowledging that you are doing your best and need to cut yourself some slack is key to surviving this phase. You are your child’s greatest champion - after all, here you are reading about how you can help your fussy eater right?
2. Change the mealtime narrative:
This goes hand in hand with “be kind to yourself” - This could mean not making your fussy eater the center of mealtime attention but rather focusing on enjoying the meal with family and friends. Once mealtimes become more about the experience (enjoyment) and not the outcome (your child finishing their meal), children relax and will naturally try more foods without the added pressure. Instead of bribing/nagging/persuading your child to eat their veggies, try to change the narrative and make it a fun competition. Ask your child these questions and watch them engage in mealtimes and have fun while doing so.
- Can you squish it / break it / stack it?
- Can you sniff it / balance it on your nose / balance it on the back of your hand?
- Can you cut it into squares / make a face / add googly eyes?
- Can you nibble it with your front teeth / chomp it with your back teeth / make bite marks on it?
- Can you lick it?
3. Social mealtimes equals good role modelling:
Holiday time means lots of new foods and social gatherings. This can fill parents of fussy eaters with dread - what will my child eat? Try to not refer to your child as a fussy or picky eater as this can reinforce their behaviour. Instead let your child have their preferred foods but continue to offer new foods with no pressure to eat. Social meals usually provide many opportunities for exposure to new foods and for your child to see how other children eat, children learn from each other and your fussy may just surprise you.
Sometimes a change in routine is a good excuse to also take a break from the usual mealtime battles and try a new approach. We would love to hear from you on how these have worked for you.