Is your toddler a picky eater? Louise Fulton Keats creates the perfect meal plan for your little ones.
The term ‘fussy eating’ is usually used to describe the behaviour of children who will eat only a small variety of food. In more serious cases, it may be limited to just a few ingredients. Fussy eaters are typically unwilling to try new foods (this is called food ‘neophobia’) and are also usually unwilling to eat many of the foods that they have seen, perhaps even eaten, before. Often they won’t eat anything from an entire food group, such as dairy, vegetables or meat.
How common is fussy eating?
If you have a toddler who’s a fussy eater, rest assured you’re not alone. In a US survey of more than 3000 children, 50% of parents reported that their 19- to 24-month-old toddler was a picky eater. So it’s a very common problem!
It is rare to have a child who doesn’t experience some food fussiness at least once during childhood. Even children who usually eat well will often experience phases of refusing foods. These phases will come, and hopefully go, and it is a matter of getting through them as calmly as possible. Remember to be patient, keep offering new foods, and children may eventually accept them.
One problem for parents who have two or more fussy eaters in the family is that they may be fussy about different foods, making it even harder to cook one family meal. Some toddlers won’t eat anything green, others don’t like seafood, there are those who won’t touch anything too chewy like steak, and those who don’t like soft or squishy textures, such as avocado or banana.
Boost nutrition in simple foods
This variation in toddler fussiness makes it difficult to create a meal plan that will meet every child’s particular food preferences. For this reason, the key principle in the plan is taking a basic meal that many children will eat – such as pikelets for breakfast or fish fingers for dinner – and using nutritional boosters and hidden ingredients to improve its health credentials.
In our downloadable 7-day meal plan for a fussy toddler, you’ll see that each day involves different meals and a wide range of ingredients. This is to give you as many different ideas as possible but, of course, it’s even better if you can batch cook and use it again another day. Like many parents, I don’t have time to spend all day cooking, so I understand the need for efficiency in the kitchen! Feel free to repeat meals as you need. Having said that, including as much variety as possible in your child’s diet is a good way to ensure she’s getting all the nutrients she needs.
Download our 7-day meal plan for a fussy toddler.
Read our article 10 ways to deal with a fussy eater for even more ideas.