Skip to content

Fussy eaters

Picky or fussy eating is something most parents face at some point. It’s usually just a phase, but it can be worrying for parents.

Follow these tips to help your child develop better eating habits:

  • Encourage your child to touch, smell and taste food
  • Lead by example and eat with them
  • Praise your child when they eat well
  • Stay calm and positive
  • Give smaller portions at first. If they finish, offer them more
  • Don’t force feed – your child may develop a negative association with a food
  • Don’t bribe or pressure
  • Don’t give children drinks or snacks close to mealtimes
  • Turn off the television or any other distractions
  • Keep offering. It can take as many as 10 times for a child to try a food and like it

Remember, we don’t all like every food. To make sure they are not missing out on important food groups, here are some alternatives you can give your child: 

If your child refuses vegetables:

  • Offer vegetable sticks as snacks
  • Blend them up in soups and meals
  • Mash with potatoes – carrots and parsnips work well
  • Many children prefer fruit, so give an extra piece of fruit instead

If your child refuses to drink milk:

  • Add cheese to mashed potato or pasta dishes
  • Add milk to mashed potato and sauces
  • Offer yoghurt or cheese as a snack
  • Try milk-based desserts like custard or rice pudding

If your child refuses meat:

  • Offer eggs – boiled, poached or scrambled!
  • Use baked beans or try peas and lentils
  • Serve meat with a sauce or gravy
  • Try casseroles using pulses like lentils and chickpeas instead of meat

Helping fussy eaters

Sarah Keogh, Consultant Dietitian, has simple tips for helping fussy eaters and explains why water and milk are the best drinks for children.

Related pages

Safefood Logo

Sign up for our family focused healthy eating and food safety news.

Safefood logo

The site content is redirecting to the NI version.