Most babies are enthusiastic eaters - happily consuming pretty much everything they are offered but, around the age of two, many children become fussy eaters.
This is completely normal and very common, but it can be very frustrating for parents and carers. These fussy toddlers will only eat a small number of familiar foods and will refuse to try anything new. As a result, mealtimes can become a battleground. Of all the foods that children refuse, the most common are vegetables and, to a lesser extent, fruit.
Vegetables and fruits are a very important part of a healthy diet and because very few children in the UK are meeting the five-a-day guidelines for good health, scientists have been testing lots of different ways to encourage young children to try them.
How CBeebies can help
Have a look at the ‘Big Cook Little Cook’ and ‘I Can Cook’ recipes in the cooking part of the Make & Colour section for loads of great ideas for meals.
Even fussy eaters might be tempted to try some new foods if they are presented in an enticing way. Take a look at the recipes in Big Cook’s Recipe Book, which are particularly imaginative. Fancy trying some Mermaid Soup, a Flower Salad, a Marrow Telescope or a Fishtank Quiche?
How to make a magic moment
Play the Tasting Game!
When you are at the supermarket together, help your child to choose a new food to try. Choose something that can be eaten raw so that you won’t have to do any extra cooking, e.g. red pepper, sugarsnap peas or cucumber.
Show the food to your child at snack time, cut off a tiny piece (about the size of a 5p coin) and ask him or her to taste it without any seasonings or dressings. It’s important that they actually taste it, but it doesn’t matter if they spit it out the first few times. If they do taste the food, give them lots of praise. If they refuse that day, don’t get cross - just say you’ll play again the next day. The important thing is to keep trying.
Repeat every day for 14 days, using the same food. After 14 days, you can start again with another new food.
The Tasting Game will encourage your child to try new foods by making the process fun. Most people give up if their child rejects a food two or three times but research has shown that, after tasting a new vegetable at least 10 times, even the most reluctant children like it more and will eat much more of it.
The Tasting Game will help you to encourage your child to eat more vegetables, but you could this technique for fruit or any kind of food that is a problem.