Many parents describe their children as “fussy” eaters. They wonder if it is better to give in and allow their children to choose their foods, rather than having to worry that their child is not eating enough. Well, the good news is that there are strategies that can be put in place.

Here follows five tips that local child care expert and Director Mimi Symons at Gumnut Gardens finds works well!


The likelihood of having a positive experience is much greater when one feels part of and having achieved something successfully. So why not grow some herbs, tomatoes or even potatoes? If you do not have a garden there are commercial bags you can grow potatoes in. The children can see them grow, they can water, prune and pick. Then top it off by cooking the food together. Anybody for pasta and pesto or potato pancakes?

Colours, Textures & Shapes 

Make it interesting and fun. Make a picture on your plate. Broccoli and peas can transform into trees and shrubs. Let the children decorate their own plate. The more food items they choose, the more they can create. Some supermarkets have free recipe magazines and from them you can collect pictures of food. Talk about what the food is called and set the table together. For babies that very much like to explore through their mouth and senses, allow them to be messy eaters!

The Social Hub 

Make meal times a social time. Try to eat together as a family but sometimes that is difficult time -wise and not everyone has a family but why not let your child invite a friend over. In an Early Childhood Setting we are blessed with lots of positive role models, children comment and compare. This is a time when we can enjoy, relax and chat. Another solution could be a picnic with friends in a park. No pressure to clean your place prior or after! You could have themes of “colours” or “fruits” to spur the eating along.


Someone once told me that a child needs to taste something at least twenty times before you know whether you like it or not, so persist! It can also be worthwhile noting that having foods separated on a plate can be less intimidating as can smaller portions. If they like it, they can always have more!

Choosing Wisely 

Amazingly enough junk food or less healthy foods often add up to be more expensive than we think. So by simply not buying them, you will reduce the temptation
to give in but also save money and be able to afford items that may appear pricy but are so much better for everyone. Invest in raspberries, blueberries, freshly caught fish and lean meats that have a paddock to plate philosophy. Plan and prepare your shopping and cooking, which will pay off when meals can be frozen and readily available. Utilise all food in the most economical way possible, bananas that are looking a bit too ripe can be frozen and will thicken up a milk shake in a way that only fresh produce can. Bon appetite!