Ten tips for fussy eaters

Ten tips for fussy eaters

Don't want mealtimes to become a battle zone? Helen Foster serves up top tips for mums who want their kids to love their veggies

Peas on earth


1. Eat veg when breastfeeding and add purée when weaning

Tweaking those tiny taste buds can start from the beginning. Adding small amounts of vegetable purée to milk and rice when weaning makes kids far more likely to eat their veg, according to research from the School of Psychology at the University of Leeds. 'Breast milk also contains flavours, so it's important for mums to eat a variety of vegetables,' says the study's author, Professor Marion Hetherington. She adds, 'We took inspiration from French mothers, as previous studies in this area have shown that they often add vegetable cooking water to their infants' milk to help introduce them to eating veg at weaning.'

2. Order veg boxes

That's the top tip of mum Rachel, who says her kids Violet, 4 and Bertie, 2, 'get hugely excited when the box arrives. They really want to know what's in it.' Rachel talks them through what the veg are and gives them little tastes. Try Riverford boxes, from £10.35.

3. Get them involved

'I started off with the shopping,' says baker and blogger Urvashi Roe of The Botanical Kitchen, mum to Amy, ten and Amber, 12. 'I used to list the different vegetables we needed to buy, then we'd draw and colour them in before going shopping. I'd then give them the list and get them to pick out the vegetables.'

4. Serve water with meals

In one US study, children aged three to five were more likely to reach for sweet-tasting vegetables – such as carrots or red peppers – after drinking water with their meal than if their food was accompanied by a sugary drink.

Peas on earth 2

5. Serve them with dip

Kids are less likely to eat their veg if they have a high sensitivity to bitter foods, but a creamy dip neutralises this. In trials at Temple University's Center for Obesity Research and Education in Philadelphia, bitter-sensitive kids ate 80 per cent more broccoli when it was served with a ranch dip. 'You can also try giving apple sauce, hummus or a yogurt-based dip,' says the study's author, Jennifer Orlet Fisher.

6. Make them fun

'My two were consummate vegetable-dodgers, but veg-eating enforcement goes against my ongoing quest for happy and harmonious meals,' says Julia Deering, author of The Playful Parent (£10.99, HarperCollins), who suggests making mealtimes more fun. 'Cut cucumber into splits and call them "crocodile jaws"; cut up cherry tomatoes at the table and call them "juice squirters". See who can make the noisiest crunch eating their carrot, or pop the most peas from a pod. Being playful encourages an enthusiasm for food.'

7. Get a sticker chart

Research at University College London found that when kids were rewarded with stickers for eating their vegetables, they not only ate more of them, but they also said that they liked them more than a group who only got praised for eating what was on their plate. To make it more interesting, try making their reward stickers vegetable-themed – you'll find packs on Amazon for about £1.99.

8. Ask what Batwoman or Elsa would eat

In trials by Cornell University in the US, when kids were asked to think what someone they admired might pick, five times as many chose healthily than when faced with the same foods without a role model.

9. Treat all food groups equally

'Parents often make dessert conditional on eating a certain amount of savoury food first – especially vegetables. But that says that vegetables don't have enough appeal on their own for kids to want to eat them,' says psychologist Dr Katrin Bain, aka The Tantrum Angel.

10. Spiralise

A spiralizer is a handy machine that makes noodles out of veg. 'They're really easy for kids to use and they love making spaghetti out of vegetables,' says nutritionist Amelia Freer, author of Eat. Nourish. Glow. (Harper Thorsons, £16.99).


Related Articles

10 ways to brighten up your January
10 ways to brighten up your January
10 ways to brighten up your January Unsure how to survive the most depressing...
How to introduce spices into your baby's diet?
Recipes & Food
How to introduce spices into your baby's diet?
How to introduce spices into your baby's diet? There’s no reason why you can...
Christmas Baking Recipe: Gingerbread Reindeer biscuits
Recipes & Food
Christmas Baking Recipe: Gingerbread Reindeer biscuits
Christmas Baking Recipe: Reindeer biscuits Get in the festive spirit and bake...
What can you use to wean a baby with a cow's milk protein allergy?
Baby & Toddler Health
What can you use to wean a baby with a cow's milk protein allergy?
What can you use to wean a baby with a cow's milk protein allergy? Find out...

email block

tips-for-new-mums-how-to-enjoy-christmas-partiesNew Mum

5 tips for new mums: how to enjoy Christmas parties

Christmas the most wonderful time of the year, however, it can be hectic for new mums. With so many festivities...
marine-lloris-precious-momentsCelebrity & Lifestyle

Marine Lloris: "I really like the fact that my girls need me!"

Marine Lloris, founder and owner of Manège en Sucre, a childrenswear fashion and accessories brand, shares her precious parenting moments

How to relieve cramp in your feet when pregnant?

Foot cramp during pregnancy can occur as a result of tight muscles in your legs or back. Find out what...

Win a baby bottle feeding starter set from Nuby worth £90

We've teamed up with Nuby to help you get your baby ready for the bottle. We're offering one lucky winner...

Win one of Three Izmi Baby Toddler Carriers

We've teamed up with Izmi Baby to offer three lucky Gurgle fans the chance to win a super comfy, safe...

Win a family holiday for four to Corsica worth over £5,500

Dreaming of a summer family holiday already? We're offering you the chance to take your little ones on the holiday...