Fussy eaters: Understanding why your child doesn't want to eat

Lots of children are particular about what they will eat at some point in their lives. It can be frustrating for parents, who spend time and money preparing nutritious meals for children who will eat them one day, and refuse them the next

But according to therapists who run the Feeding Clinic at Kids First Children’s Services in Sydney’s northern beaches, there are some children whose fussy eating goes beyond the occasional drama at the dinner table.

Boys and girls with sensory sensitivities are often fussy eaters
There is much more to overcoming fussy eating than simply getting food into your child’s mouth and hoping that he or she will swallow it!

Sometimes, it can take time to work out the answer to the big question parents and carers ask….

‘WHY won’t my child eat?’

Feeding is a ‘whole body’ experience that involves all of your child’s senses.

For that reason, when we think about helping children who are fussy or problem eaters, we need to look not just at the actual ‘food’ itself, but also at other physical, environmental, emotional or sensory factors that might be impacting on their ability (or willingness) to give new foods a go.

There are many things that you can do at home to support the physical, sensory and emotional influences that might be affecting your child’s meal-time skills.

Where to start with your fussy eater

Having fun, and taking pressure away from your children as they eat,  is the best place to start.

Often we get the best results for overcoming fussy eating when we start with strategies that take place outside of meal-times and well away from the kitchen or dining room table.

Remember though, that consistency is the key!

Playing a game with your child just once or twice is probably not going to have much impact if you are trying to address a habit or skill deficit that has been present for quite some time.

Routines and fun activities that become part of your family life could make a big difference to your fussy or problem eater, providing opportunities to develop the meal-time skills and food confidence.

Ideas to try at home

On this site, we have included some of the strategies we share with parents as they help their children to overcome fussy eating habits. Just follow the red arrows below for more evidence-based tips.

These ideas, which come from Kids First’s SOS Approach to Feeding accredited therapists and the rest of Kids First Children’s Services paediatric health team, could be a great place for you and for family to start as you encourage your child to be a more adventurous eater.

.© 2018 Kids First Children’s Services

Find out more about feeding therapy at Kids First here

Worried about your Fussy Eater?

If your child struggles to eat a wide variety of foods, Kids First Children’s Services’ popular Feeding Clinic may help. Delivered by speech and occupational therapists who have post-graduate training in the SOS Approach to Feeding, Feeding Therapy at Kids First is a health service that is

If you would like more information about Feeding Therapy at Kids First, please contact us on 9938 5419 or complete the ‘Contact Us’ form below.

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