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Encouraging children to try new foods & managing fussy eaters

Feeding young children can be challenging as they often have small appetites and very definite likes and dislikes. As a parent, it can be concerning and frustrating when your child refuses to try new foods or to eat what you have provided.


Tips to encourage new foods and manage fussy eating:


  • Avoid letting your child graze throughout the day.

  • Eat together as a family wherever possible. Try to keep meal times relaxed and calm.

  • Offer all children the same family foods and try to avoid preparing separate meals for different family members.

  • Remove distractions such as, toys and television during meal and snack times so your child can focus on the task of eating.


  • Involve your child in choosing new foods when you are out grocery shopping.

  • Growing vegetables and fruit is a fun way to help children learn where food comes from.

  • Make meals and snacks look appealing by using different coloured foods, interesting shapes and textures.

  • Show your child how you explore food – for example, touching, smelling or licking.


  • Try varying the way new foods are prepared. Some children prefer cold, crunchy foods while others enjoy cooked. This can change over time.

  • Congratulate your child when they try something new even if it’s just a small mouthful.

  • Serve only a small amount of the new food on their plate so it doesn’t overwhelm your child.

  • Look for opportunities for your child to share meals and snacks with other children

HOW FOOD INDEPENDENCE CAN HELP WITH FUSSY EATING

It can be a good idea to support your child’s need for independence when it comes to food. You provide healthy food options for your child. But let your child decide how much they want to eat.


You could also let your child make choices within a range of healthy foods. Just limit the options to a couple of different things, so your child doesn’t get too overwhelmed to eat. For example, instead of asking your child to pick what they want from the fridge, you could ask, ‘Would you like carrot or cucumber?’


Another top tip is getting your child involved in preparing family meals. For example, your child could help out with:


  • Picking a recipe

  • Getting food out of the fridge

  • Washing fruit and vegetables

  • Tossing a salad

  • Planting and picking herbs at home.

  • Planting your own veges at home

  • Getting your own chickens for home

  • They’ll feel proud of helping and be more likely to eat something they’ve helped to make


FUSSY EATER FACTS:

These facts can help you understand why children maybe fussy their with food:

  • Children’s appetites are affected by their growth cycles. Even babies have change in appetites. From the ages 1-6 years, it’s common for children to be very hungry one day and picky the next.

  • Children have different taste preferences from grown-ups.

  • Life can be super exciting for children, and sometimes they’re too busy exploring the life around them to spend time eating. Eating also uses energy, so when they’re tired they might not be nterested in eating.

  • Children learn by testing the boundaries of acceptable behaviour. They can be very strong willed when it comes to making decisions about food (to eat or not to eat, and what to eat). It’s all part of their social, intellectual and emotional development.



HEALTHY QUICK & EASY RECIPES YOU CAN MAKE WITH YOUR CHILD


BLUEBERRY & AVOCADO MINI MUFFINS


Ingredients you will need

  • 1 cup white whole wheat flour (see notes)

  • 1/2 tsp baking powder

  • 1/2 tsp baking soda

  • 1/4 tsp salt

  • 1/4 cup ripe avocado, mashed (roughly 1/2 a medium avocado)

  • 1/3 cup maple syrup

  • 1/3 cup mild olive oil, coconut oil or melted butter

  • 1 egg

  • 1/4 cup milk of choice, regular, almond, hemp, oat, etc

  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

2/3 cup blueberries


STEP-BY-STEP INSTRUCTIONS


  • Prep: Heat oven to 180 degrees and spray or line a mini muffin tin.

  • Dry Ingredients: In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

  • Wet Ingredients: With a hand mixer, mix the avocado until smooth and creamy. Add in the maple syrup and oil (or butter) and mix well. Add in the egg, milk, and vanilla extract and mix until completely combined.

  • Combine: Pour the flour mixture into wet ingredients. Gently fold the ingredients together until just combined. Do not overmix.

  • Add Blueberries: Gently fold in the blueberries.

  • Fill: Spoon the batter into the muffin tin, filling 3/4 way to the top.

  • Bake: Place the muffin pan into the oven for 12-15 minutes or until just golden. 

  • Cool: Let cool in the pan for 5 minutes before transitioning the muffins onto a cooling rack. Serve and enjoy!



RECIPE TIPS

  • Do Not Over Mix: do not over mix the muffin batter, as this will cause hard and dense muffins. Gently fold in the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients until just incorporated. Some lumps will be okay. 

  • Sugar: for this recipe, we are using a small amount of maple syrup. You can easily substitute applesauce (with no added sugar) to this recipe but know that the muffins will be slightly denser and not as fluffy, but they still taste amazing.

Mini Muffins Vs. Regular: you can definitely make this recipe into regular-size muffins. You will get roughly 6 full-size muffins and will need to bake them for 18-20 minutes.


EASY VEGE MUFFINS WITH BROCCOLI & CARROTS


Ingredients you will need


  • 1 cup grated carrot

  • 1 cup finely chopped broccoli (top parts of the florets only, no stems)

  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

  • 1 1/2 cups milk

  • 1/4 cup melted butter (or neutral oil like canola)

  • 2 eggs (lightly beaten)

  • 1 cup cornmeal

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour

  • 1 teaspoon baking powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

STEP BY STEP INSTRUCTIONS


  • Preheat the oven to 190 degrees and grease a standard muffin tin with nonstick spray.

  • Place all ingredients into a medium bowl and stir together gently to combine. Divide the batter among the prepared muffin tin, filling each about ¾ full.

  • Bake for 18-20 minutes or until the edges are lightly golden brown and a cake tester inserted into the center comes out cleanly. Remove from oven, let cool in the pan for a minute or two, then transfer to a wire rack to cool at least slightly.

  • Serve warm or store.



Tips for Making the Best Veggie Muffins

  • Use just the top parts of each broccoli floret so you avoid using any of the harder stems. This will help ensure a fluffy overall texture to the muffins.

  • Use gluten-free cup for cup flour blend in place of the whole wheat flour to make these gluten-free.

  • To store, place cooled muffins into an airtight container and store in the fridge for up to 5 days.

  • Reheat for 15-30 seconds and serve warm. Or freeze for up 3 months in the freezer in a zip top storage bag with a much air removed as possible.

  • Thaw in the fridge or at room temperature and warm to serve.

  • These pair nicely with soup and salad, or are a nice lunch or breakfast main dish with simple sides such as fruit, eggs, or additional veggies.


CARROT & ZUCCHINI SLICE


This healthy Zucchini & Carrot Slice is a simple and tasty midweek meal, with leftovers perfect for lunchboxes! Or make ahead of time and freeze for a quick and easy meal on the run.


Ingredients you will need


  • 5 eggs large, at room temperature

  • 150 g (1 cup) self raising flour

  • 60 ml (¼ cup) oil

  • 100 g cheese grated

  • 300 g zucchini grated, strain any excess liquid off

  • 200 g carrots grated, approx 2 small

  • 1 large onion finely chopped

  • 100 g thinly shaved ham finely chopped

  • salt and pepper to season



STEP BY STEP INSTRUCTIONS


  • Grease and line a square or rectangular 20cm x 30cm baking tin with baking paper.

  • Preheat the oven to 170 degrees celsius (fan forced).

  • Place the eggs into a large bowl and whisk well.

  • Add the self raising flour and oil and whisk until smooth.

  • Add the grated cheese, zucchini, carrot, onion and ham and mix well. Season with salt and pepper.

  • Pour into the prepared tin and bake for 30-40 minutes or until golden on top and cooked through (you can test my inserting a skewer into the middle or pressing lightly onto the top).


Baking Tips:

  • Bake this slice for 30-40 minutes at 170 degrees celsius in a fan forced oven until it's golden and set in the middle (10-20 degrees higher if oven not fan forced).

  • You can test if it's cooked through by inserting a skewer or by pressing gently on top.

  • If you find that the top is browning too quickly, just pop a sheet of foil over the top and put it back into the oven.

Storing:

  • Fresh - this zucchini slice can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. 

  • Frozen - alternatively, it can be frozen for up to 3 months - allow to defrost in the fridge. I usually make a couple of trays at one time and then freeze some individual pieces.

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