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Fussing about food: dealing with food rejection

Practical advice to a parent whose child is rejecting their food. Topics include promoting happy mealtimes and being responsive to baby’s appetite.

Children can exert enormous power over parents when they sense the stakes are high. This is, of course, the case when it comes to feeding young infants.

Many parents find the enjoyment and excitement associated with the early days of feeding their baby begins to disappear when their child starts to cry and fuss when being offered food. This shift in interest around food often reflects the baby’s growing independence.

Parents want their baby to eat and enjoy a wide range of foods, many of which they’ve taken a lot of time to prepare. Food made with love, cost and time is meant to be enjoyed, not spat out or cried over!

In this video, Karen discusses these issues with a parent who’s feeling frustrated and disappointed that her previously ‘good eater’ is now not enjoying mealtimes at all – unless, that is, she brings out the sweet custard!

The key messages of this video are:

  • Avoid engaging with your child when they don’t want to eat and, instead, allow them to decide when to eat (if at all) and how much they will eat.
  • The more you fuss and try to encourage your child to finish what you’ve offered, the more ammunition they have and, in turn, the more they will fuss. This outcome is stressful and upsetting, and it can be avoided.
  • The importance of not providing ‘back up’ options, which will usually be sweet. Remember that we’re programmed to enjoy sweet tastes and this is partly why babies enjoy breastmilk. However, if you offer sweet alternatives to the main offerings, you’ll soon find this becomes a focus for your baby.

Your task

Watch the video and, in the comments, share your thoughts about why some young children become fussy eaters and how this can be avoided.

  • If you have experienced a fussy child, what did you try to do to overcome it?
  • What advice were you given?
  • Did it work?
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Infant Nutrition: from Breastfeeding to Baby's First Solids

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FutureLearn - Learning For Life

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