Menu

Education Today Logo


newsletter

Education Today Cover Browse Issue

Teachers enlisted to train fussy eaters

News Image

Fussy eaters are hard to win over and it takes a combined effort shared between parents, carers, grandparents and teachers to help the most fussy eaters to eat healthy, varied diets during their preschool and early school years, nutritionists say.

It's all about patience and persistence with children taking 10 to 15 tries of an unfamiliar food before they might start to like it.

New research from nutrition and dietetics experts at Flinders University has found the diets of young Australians face a big challenge once introduced to solid food.

Fear (‘neophobia’) of new foods once solids are introduced into a baby’s diet creates issues in the lead-up to preschool and early school years when good nutrition is vital for healthy development.

Fussy eaters can lapse into bad eating habits that continue from 3–7 during important years for physical and learning development.

The new study on the dietary habits of children aged 1 to 5 years, shows Australian parents are breastfeeding to an average age of almost 12 months.

However, parents and carers often report difficulties when their babies are introduced to solids.

“Children who were more likely to reject unfamiliar foods, which is commonly perceived by parents as ‘fussy’ or ‘picky’ eating, have poorer diets,” says lead researcher Dr Lucinda Bell, an accredited practicing dietitian.

“This avoidance of new foods by children is a part of normal development. It is the normal reaction to the new experience of tasting foods for the first time.

“But some children have greater fear of new foods, which may be due to both nature and nurture.”

Flinders University Nutrition and Dietetics Associate Professor Rebecca Golley supports the idea of schools, parents, caregivers and children working together for optimal results.

Golley will cover best practice feeding strategies, including the following tips to help children taste new foods:

  • Set the bar low and be persistent: if children simply taste (even without swallowing) a food, after 10–15 (or more) ‘tastes’ they will be more likely to like that food.
  • Continue providing your child with a variety of foods, even foods they’ve rejected.
  • Pair new foods with old favourites: providing children with a vegetable they like along side a vegetable they’ve never tried before increases the chances of the new vegetable being
  • Be a role model: Dads have a key role to play here. The variety (or not) of healthy foods on dad’s plate influences what foods children are willing to eat.
  • Keep it light: sometimes food can become a tool used as children exert their independence. Simply taking uneaten food away, without comment, can be best way to reduce mealtime battles.
  • Feed children when they are hungry: stick to small snacks between meals. If children have eaten within the previous 1–2 hours, they are less likely to be hungry and willing to eat or try new foods.
  • Phone apps such as Mealtime and PlanBuyCook can help prepare simple, healthy meals for young children. Meal kit services such as Hello Fresh also can facilitate healthy meal planning, so families do not rely on takeaway or other less healthy options.

18 Oct 2018 | National
60,000 regional school students to have best seat in the house  News Image

The Australian Theatre for Young People (ATYP) is launching ATYP On Demand, a theatre streaming platform to give remote and low SES students free access to theatre made by young people, for young people. Read More

17 Oct 2018
Tax deductions for teachers News Image

As the October 31st tax deadline is approaching, now is the time for teachers and those working in education who haven’t yet lodged to get their taxes up to date. Read More

17 Oct 2018 | National
Wakakirri announces national story dance of the year winners News Image

Big stories about big issues have been at the forefront of Wakakirri this year, themes explored included reconciliation, environmental conservation and mental health, the winners have now been announced. Read More

17 Oct 2018
New resource teaches kids about periods News Image

Period Talk is Australia’s first education module designed to get kids talking about periods, removing the taboo and embarrassment that has surrounded the subject for so long. Read More

17 Oct 2018 | Melbourne
Big Day In Jr STEAM event News Image

400 primary school students from 13 schools and 35 presenters from the science and tech industry will descend on Malvern Valley Primary School on Thursday 18th October, for the Big Day In Jr. Read More