As a qualified teacher, mum, parenting coach and all-round Early Years expert, Sophie has a wealth of practical, real life experience to share with parents.
As a mum of two and a registered GP, Stephanie has seen more than her fair share of little ones! She has lots of practical tips and professional know-how on hand to help parents.
Laura is our nutrition whizz – bringing her expert advice and experience from working with chefs, schools and nurseries to the Kiddylicious expert panel.
It’s worth clarifying the difference between typical fussy eating and really extreme picky eating. For me, this would be something like a child getting really physically upset about foods being put onto their plate, or different foods touching each other and perhaps only accepting no more than 10 foods.
Sometimes they have a physical reaction to foods especially if they’ve got a restricted list of things they will eat. Some kids will almost gag at a new food.
Extreme pickiness might be related to an incident such as an illness or a choking incident, which perhaps wasn’t dealt with at the time. In those circumstances, perhaps after a choking incident, try to offer them a favourite food.
You also need to be aware of the point when you think fussiness might have become a behavioural issue. Or a health issue. I think primarily if you can see that they are gaining weight, they should be fine. Seek help from your GP if they are only eating a very limited range of foods or are dramatically losing weight.
If they’re having what you might call a ‘meltdown’ every mealtime, I would personally recommend a parent keep a food diary, because then you can recognise patterns that led to this. Were you serving food of a particular texture, because texture can be a big thing for some children. You may suddenly realise it’s a trigger for them. From a developmental point of view, if your child is still expressing extreme behaviours around food at four or five years old, that’s the time that you’d think there might be something more to it. Obviously, it depends on individual children and circumstances.
You can also try foods in different formats if there are things they seem resistant to. For example, avocado is a kind of slippery, slightly slimy texture, so perhaps try it mashed or mixed with fish or similar.
I would be hesitant to suggest to parents that there was developmental delay, or a disorder with their child when actually it’s just a natural wariness of new textures and flavours. Don’t be afraid to seek professional help – you are not failing as a parent if you ask for advice. It’s okay to reach out to a nutritionist or a doctor and ask them questions – they’re not going to judge you as a parent.
I think that a lot of people worry that they’re wasting a doctor’s time especially if it’s not strictly medical problem but do have a chat with your GP or your health visitor. They talk to parents about this all the time and they can be a really helpful source of information. And speak to your friends who’ve got children. As a parent, you’re not the first person to have worried about that this, so, when you share it with other people, you will often find that they have been through it as well.