Your child may be a fussy eater and you’re wondering how they will cope in nursery but don’t worry nurseries have a lot of experience with children who are fussy eaters, those who refuse to eat and even those who have a phobia of eating. If you give them special treatment and give them a packed lunch it can often reinforce the behaviour. This does not mean your child will be left to go hungry or be forced to eat, there are some tips below that will help you cope with your fussy eater.
Fussy Eaters: Leading By Example
Your child is more likely to try something new if they are encouraged by other children. Seeing other children may make them want to experiment, especially if it is a food they are unfamiliar with. If their friends help them by giving them the green light they may have a little try. Sitting a fussy eater with an adventurous eater is the best way to let them see others eating the food. Only children and those who are the eldest are found to be the ones who are more likely to be fussy eaters because they don’t have an older sibling to copy. It is important that you try to all sit down as a family for meals at home so that your child can see you and their siblings all eating too.
Give Children Choice
Providing an almost picnic like lunch allows fussy eaters to choose their own food from the selection you give them. Some children do not like their foods touching each other and some do not like the look of all the food on their plate at the same time.
Make Mealtimes Fun
Children may be daunted if someone is there in the background constantly telling them to eat up, therefore it is best to avoid this and allow them to eat at their own pace. If fussy eaters are sat with friends it makes them feel more comfortable and helps them to enjoy meal times. Once they realise that nobody is stressing over them to eat, they will forget about being picky and start to have fun with eating.
Punishment or Reward?
There is no incentives given for eating food, as it is neither good nor bad behaviour. There is evidence however, that a sticker chart can prove effective for reinforcing positive behaviours. Implementing a sticker chart or some sort of reward programme could work for some children who are fussy eaters. If you have a fussy eater it is recommended to speak to your child’s key person who will be able to help your child in the nursery and give you tips on what to do at home.
There are ways nurseries make eating and trying new food interesting. When learning about certain topics, foods are taken into nurseries for the children to try. This encourages them to try food without it being a mealtime, but just for fun. Many nurseries grow their own food in the gardens, mainly fruit and vegetables, in order for the children to explore.