Summary: Have confusion difference between picky eaters definition and fussy eating? Why kids are refusing your beans and other delicious foods that you think are good for their health? How to deal with a fussy baby? How to get a child to eat when they refuse? There are 8 different reasons why kids are fussy eating. In this post, we offer you corresponding suggestions on how to deal with picky eaters.
Reading Time: 8 minutes
Part 1. Is Fussy Eating The Common Rite of Passage?
It seems like your 4-year-old picky eater kids are just refusing your dishes no matter what you prepare, even if you tell them that these are good for their health. You might think that they are merely naughty and don’t want to listen to you? But why they sometimes behave a little bit off and even push his/her plates back to you?
In fact, almost every parent has encountered fussy-eating kids no matter toddlers or teenagers, it is a normal rite of passage. But thankfully, it is just a fleeting stage, mostly a year or two. By knowing the reasons after that, you can do the right thing to fix picky eating disorder. Before we know why are kids picky eaters, we need to know the difference between picky eaters and fussy eaters:
Part 2. Definition: Picky Eaters VS. Fussy Eaters
1. Picky Eaters Definition
Picky eater has some sort of food neophobia. Those people are reluctant to accept new foods. This toddler eating habits will result in lacking of nutrition, protein or vitamin. However, it is luckily that these picky eating behavior are temporary phases and if try several times, your kids will accept these foods or even love it.
3. Can Kids Be Both Picky and Fussy?
Yes, of course. Raising a kid is so challenging, I hardly heard someone saying that their kids always eat up what they prepare, kids are either picky or fussy or both at different ages. Some when they are few months old, some at their 2-year old, some even at their 10+ year old.
No matter when your kids are encounter fussy eating or picky eating, you should better know the reason behind this and the solution for avoiding. To see how much of a picky eater your kids are, you can check this picky eater test.
Part 3. Reasons & Solutions for Avoiding Fussy/Picky Eaters
Reason 1. Feel Yukky of Bitter Food But Prefer Sweet Ones
Does your extremely picky eater toddler hate raw onions, tomatoes, broccoli, spinach and peas which you think is delicious? Well, the truth is, kids have more taste buds than adults. They are more sensitive to sweet and bitter. People have about 10,000 taste buds which will be replaced every 2 weeks. But as people ages, taste buds stop updating and begin reducing. According to some research, an older person averagely have 5,000 working taste buds and adults who smoke or are obesity might have fewer taste buds. That’s why kids have a stronger taste for certain food than grow-ups.
Solution 1 – Remove Bitter? Or something to Remedy
It is a human instinct that we prefer sweet and hate bitter foods. Kids can feel bitter more sensitive, so that’s the reason why they don’t like broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and green beans. There are many healthy meals for picky eaters that are a little bitter. We’d better included them in our kids’ menu rather than avoiding them. What we can do is to do some remedy. Bitter counteracts sour, such as lemon juice, orange, and yogurt. So we can squeeze some lemon juice to reduce bitter taste, maybe your child will accept it.
Solution 2 – Reconsider About Temperatures and Texture
Kids don’t exactly hate the foods, sometimes it is the textures, temperatures or the way it looks that make your kids feel gross. Potato chips are one of the best love of kids, however, your fussy toddler won’t like it if they are exposed to the air for long because they tasted bad. So, texture and temperatures are the keys as well. That’s why your girl doesn’t like steamed peas but can accept frozen peas out of the bag.
Reason 2. Feel Pressured Being Pushed
Even if you don’t directly force your child to eat all the peas you prepare, he/she might still feel pressured if you focus too much on what to eat and how much to eat during the meal. Other indirect pressure comes from your lecturing her/him lack of eating something is not good for growing up, or trying to spoon-feed her when she’s slow down her eating.
Solution – Let Your Kids Take Their Time
Keep presenting different foods but do not push any option no matter your kids like or don’t like. He/she might take a bite for trial sooner or later. If he/she don’t like it as for now, let it be, you can try it the next time. No matter how long the eating has been, just leave he/she alone till they finished even if they would make the table a mess after they finished.
Reason 3. Need Engagement and Make Their Decision
Every single person pursuits the right to make decisions on their own, of course, kids included. You can give your kids an opportunity to make him/her own meal so that they won’t find that they have no control over what they are going to eat.
Solution – Keep Him Participate and Made His Own Decision
Even though parents will be in charge of the final menu, kids can make some advice anyway. Because they might get bored of what you serve them, new cuisine should be added to the menu. Ask your kids for help while deciding on their menu, shopping for veggies and more to get him/her participated in the process of making the meal. Make themselves a meal I mean plan their own menu table, buy foods from the supermarket with you, wash vegetables, mix ingredients together or any other simple steps during making the meal. Once you keep your kids engaged in deciding their own menu, they are more eager to eat them up happily.
Reason 4. Busy Playing With Toys or Distracted by iPad
Sometimes, kids don’t eat foods or eat very slow because they are occupied in other things: Watching TV, playing their favorite toys or playing games on your smartphones. These will distract your child from eating his/her meal even though they are starving. They don’t feel that because they are so focused.
Solution – Keep Kids Away from Distraction While Eating
To solve this, the first thing we can do is to put aside your laptops, cell phones or tablets yourself. Then, tell your kids that it is not right to use electronic devices or toys for babies and more when it’s mealtime. Sit down and share more time with your kids for family bonding. Talk about school, work and other interesting topics to keep mealtime happier, memorable and comfortable. And only allow devices when they finish their dishes.
Reason 5. Not Feeling Very Well
When your kids don’t feel very well, such as having a fever, hydrated, getting constipation, canker sores or acid reflux, the first sign will be showing no interest on anything, eating, watching TV or playing.
Solution – Get Them Some Easy-Digesting Foods or Ask for Doctor
You should notice these symptoms very soon and prepare some easy-to-digest foods like rice, banana, soup, etc. If this seems severe, contact your kids’ doctor to get him/her appropriate treatments.
Reason 6. Too Tired to Eat
If you find your kids eating very slowly or can’t keep their eyes on foods especially for dinner, it is possible that your kids get extremely tired after a day of learning in school and playing with friends. They are too exhausted to even send foods into your mouth.
Solution – Adjustment on Kids’ Rest Timetable
If this happens frequently, I will suggest that you check the sleep chart for kids and make an adjustment on your sons/daughters rest timetable. An earlier dinner and go to back earlier will be recommended. Or a morning nap or afternoon nap should be added so as to make sure your kids are energetic enough to play with their friends and for dinner. You can reference this bedtime schedule for your kids correspondingly.
Reason 7. Too Full to Eat
To give our kids as much nutrition as he/she needs, we make different kinds of healthy food for picky eaters. Milk, fresh orange juice, vegetables, meat, beans and some other snacks. It is very likely that our kids are too full when it’s time for having their dinner or lunch after having a full bottle of milk. So, kids aren’t interested in your meals merely because he/she is not physically hungry. Besides, milk contains fat and protein which will make a satiating effect to make kids feel full. If your kids don’t have any other foods or drink but simply eat less than usual, it is possibly because kids have a much more stabilize and slow growth after 2-years-old so they don’t eat as much as they used to be.
Solution – Reduce Snacks & Drinks
Toddlers need less than 2 cups of milk each day. We highly suggest that you offer 0.5 cups respectively for breakfast, lunch and dinner and left another 0.5 cup before bedtime. As a parent, you’d better prepare yogurt or fruit for your kids’ snack and better refuse dessert and french fries which contains sugar and fat.
Reason 8. Get Bored of Eating The Same Unattractive Dishes
Parents are not Michelin chefs. They can’t cook attractive, appetizing, flavorful meals without repeating. However, we can add some variety on the meal so that you can keep your kids surprised and keep yourself passion of cooking meals.
Solution – Keep an Open Mind on Dishing Up & Name Your Dish A Catchy Name
Keep your mind open when preparing the meal for your kids. If your kids love Spiderman, Superman, Mario or Frozen, you can try adding these factors to your kids’ meals. He/she would love it and eat their meals all. Name a catchy name will also make some differences. Think about X-Ray vision carrots vs. carrots.
That’s all. You can check these reasons and see why your kids refuse the foods you provide and do your best to help your kids accept as many foods as they can to intake enough nutrition. You can also check the related post on how to get toddlers to eat: Toddler Lunch Ideas for Picky Eaters.