Monday, Oct 03, 2022

How to handle a fussy eater and recipes to try for kids

Picky eating usually peaks in the toddler and preschool years. Toddlers are also learning lots of new skills, like talking, walking, running, climbing, etc., where they become less interested in food.

fussy eater, fussy eating kids, kids who are fussy eaters, how to deal with fussy eating children, children and food habits, parenting, indian express newsEstablishing healthy eating patterns is important to avoid problems such as obesity and eating disorders later in life. (Photo: Getty/Thinkstock)

By Sneha Sanjay D.

A child’s nutrition and food habits is a prime topic in every household, especially one with a fussy toddler. As a parent or caregiver, to fight the dinner table battles, try to understand the child’s behaviour and interests related to food.

Some toddlers go through a phase of only eating a few particular foods. This is a normal part of their development. Many toddlers experience this around the age of one to two. Picky eating usually peaks in the toddler and preschool years. Toddlers are also learning lots of new skills, like talking, walking, running, climbing, etc., where they become less interested in food. Also, parents should know that a toddler’s stomach is approximately the same size as a clenched fist.

Establishing healthy eating patterns is important to avoid problems such as obesity and eating disorders later in life.

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Factors that may be putting the child off food may include:

  • Illness – Even a simple cold, cough or indigestion can be a reason for the child being fussy.

  • Tiredness – If the child is physically very active and playful most part of the day, the fussiness increases.

  • Emotionally upset – Kids too have mood changes. Console the child and try feeding later.

  • Delay in texture transition of food – At the right age, various textures of food (fine pureed, hand mashed, soft solids) have to be introduced for the child to get accustomed by the first birthday.

With such kids at home, mealtimes can be frustrating for parents and traumatic for the kids too. The best answer to deal with the situation is not to fret, but rather look into these options that can be very helpful.


Role of parents

1. Respect the child’s appetite: As a parent, do not get too strict about what a child has to eat all the time. Give some liberty to the child to decide among healthy food options.

2. Recruit a child’s help: Children love being a part of simple cooking which encourages them to have food without being fussy. Involve them in activities like sorting vegetables/fruits, choosing food from the grocery list, washing vegetables, etc.

3. Get creative: Make innovative yet simple recipes to interest them to have food and also let the child plate the food.

4. Avoid being a special chef for all the child’s needs: Do not budge for all the demands of a child as this is not a healthy practice.


5. Be patient with new foods: Gently and frequently offer new kinds of foods in different forms.

6. Minimise distractions: Gadgets (television/tabs/mobiles) are not a great answer for all meal times.


7. Set a good example: As a family, consume mostly healthy and homemade foods. Use healthy dips such as yogurt, hummus, traditional curries or fresh cream-based salad dressings to encourage children to eat fruits, vegetables, and meats.

8. Stick to a routine: Have a specific meal timing for the children to know about the routine for everything .This also makes them feel hungry at the right time.


9. Make it fun: Toddlers are very excited to taste food offered to them in different shapes, colours and textures.

10. Don’t offer dessert as a reward: Instead, offer incentives like taking them to a park, playing with them for a while or involving them in some physical and fun activity which encourages physical activity that improves appetite and induces hunger.

Quick and healthy recipes

Nutri Muffins

You need:

  • Egg-1

  • Fine chopped vegetables-Capsicum, Onion, Tomato, Broccoli ,Coriander

  • Salt

  • Pepper

  • Turmeric powder


  • Beat the whole egg.

  • Add all the mention ingredients

  • Mix well & pour into muffin tray

  • Bake it in the oven or a preheated pressure cooker

Rainbow Cutlets

You need:

  • Toor dal, coarsely powdered

  • Thick sooji

  • Vegetables: Carrot, beans, grated cauliflower, amaranth, purple cabbage, peas

  • Salt and pepper powder


  • Mix the sooji and coarsely powdered toor dal with salt.

  • Into a thick-bottomed vessel, add water, and while it is boiling, add toor dal sooji mixture, all kinds of fine chopped vegetables.

  • Pressure cook it to an upma consistency.

  • Add pepper powder, give everything a thorough mix.

  • Shape it up to a cutlet shape, shallow fry on a tawa with either fresh cream or ghee.

Dal Poori

You need:

  • Urad dal

  • Wholewheat flour

  • Ginger

  • Salt

  • Oil


  • Soak urad dal for 2 hours. Grind it to a fine thick paste with ½ an inch ginger.

  • To the wholewheat flour, add salt, urad dal puree and knead it into a poori dough.

  • Roll it into different shapes and fry.

Healthy Pancakes

You need:

  • Multigrain flour

  • Dry fruits: Figs, almonds, dates, sunflower seeds

  • Milk


  • Dilute milk.

  • Soak all the dry fruits in warm water for half an hour.

  • Grind it to a fine paste.

  • Add all the mentioned ingredients to the multigrain flour.

  • Mix well to a dosa batter consistency

  • Make a thick and soft pancake on a skillet with a blob of butter.

  • Honey can be added finally on the fresh pancakes instead of mixing with batter.

Moong Paneer Rolls

You need:

  • Moong dal

  • Paneer, grated

  • Salt

  • Pepper

  • Jeera


  • Soak moong dal for 2 hours and grind it to a smooth consistency without much water.

  • Mix salt, pepper and jeera to the batter.

  • Make a dosa on a preheated pan with oil.

  • Once flipped on both sides, add grated paneer & roll it up.

We hope these tips and recipes make mealtimes more enjoyable with your toddler.

(The writer is Senior Executive Nutritionist, Cloudnine Group of Hospitals, Bengaluru-Jayanagar)

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First published on: 01-09-2021 at 04:52:18 pm
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