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Social and Emotional Skills

Selective eating habits – ideas to help

Make mealtimes a pleasant experience for the whole family and not a focus to discuss food issues, especially if this is more focussed on one member of the family. Try to get all family members to avoid this topic of conversation.

Ideas to Help

By eating with the child you can show them how you enjoy eating and spending quality time with them.

Offer the child a smaller portion of the same food you are eating.

If the child does not eat their food, don’t make a fuss, just take it away. Try not to give any snacks, sweets, crisps or fizzy drinks between meals. It is harder for the child to refuse to eat if he/she is hungry and young children can feel full after drinking a fizzy drink.

Encourage the child to try a range of different foods – these should be different colours, textures and tastes. A small amount is fine at first. One way to introduce new tastes is to mix them in with existing foods they like. Try not introducing too much at once e.g. one new food each week.

Try “hiding” vegetables in pureed soups, mixed in a cheese sauce, or as a topping on a pizza.

Use a sauce the child likes with the new food such as introducing fish with tomato sauce, if the child likes this already.

Try not having crisps, sweets or fizzy drinks in the house at all, if this is all the child will eat. He/she is likely to want them if they are available.

If the child is thirsty before a meal give a drink of water rather than milk-based drinks as these may fill them up.

Praise the child when he/she tries new food even if they decide they don’t like it.

Involve the child in food preparation so he/she can get interested in how dishes are made and take pride in preparing them and gaining praise from others.

Introduce raw vegetables and get the child to dip them into a dip they have made, such as mayonnaise with tomato sauce mixed in.

Find out if there is a local children’s cookery course in your area. Your child can see other children trying different foods and this may act as encouragement to try them also.