I have written this as my personal journey with a fussy eater (my son) in hopes to provide a firsthand experience and hopefully help other mums with fussy eating.
First, we have to remember that fussy eating is a normal part of development for a toddler, but I believe if we take the right steps during this process our children will have the building blocks to make good choices at later stages of life and grow out of their fussiness with ease.
His fussiness began at 18 months. The first thing I did was change our diet to a vegetarian diet with the inclusion of fish as he hated meat, but loved fish. Of course you don’t have to do this, it just suited us well as I too am not keen on meat. For some time this worked, but he become more and more fussy with his veggies, I continued to give him the same dinner I was eating with no luck. I wasn’t overly concerned about him not getting what he needed as he was having my little Munchkins shakes.
At 3 years of age, I realised he was getting worse with the fussy eating and at this stage only ate carrot, noodles, tofu, and fish. Also he got some fruit after dinner as some nights he ate nothing at all. I never made a separate dinner as this becomes a habit and forms bad eating. It was time to do something about his fussy eating.
I set up a routine to follow every night so that he became used to what he needed to do to get what he wanted. Every child and circumstance is different, but this is what I did.
I told my son he must try everything on his plate or he would not be allowed to watch tv which is what he loves to do after dinner and before bed. You may use computer time or something else your child loves to do that will make them try the food on their plate.
Of course, the first night he tested me and got no TV. The 2nd night after being told again he would not get TV if he didn’t try everything on his plate, after some time he did as he was told tried some capsicum and loved it.
He only had to try everything once to get TV, and then I added a treat if he ate all his food that he had tried, the treat-included things like some fruit, a hot chocolate or some ice cream.
If there was something he tried that he really didn’t like (a mum always knows when their kids really don’t like something) that was ok with me as there are things I don’t like either.
After six months, he now eats most of his meal without me even having to say anything as he knows most of the vegies and what they taste like. Sometimes, we have something new, but he knows he must try to get what he wants. We have gone from eating almost nothing to finishing a meal most nights in only six months. Of course he still gets his treat and lots of praise when he’s finished his meal.