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Fussy Eating

Encouraging Children to Try New Foods

Fussy eating can challenge parents and carers when children refuse to try new foods or eat what has been served. This response is part of children’s development and growing independence.  Try these ideas to help your child to develop healthy eating behaviours

Have set mealtime routines

  • Establish set times for meals and snacks. This can prepare your child for lunch and recess times at school.
  • Remove distractions from the table such as toys, books and screens (television, tablets, phones).
  • Eat as a family and keep mealtimes relaxed and calm.
  • Provide small portions and allow your child to have more if they wish.

Encourage your child’s interest in new foods

  • Involve your child in meal planning, food shopping, preparation and cooking. Allow them to choose some foods such as a new fruit or vegetable or suitable meal for dinner.
  • Invite your child to plant, water and harvest produce from the garden.
  • Try not to label your child as fussy or picky.
  • Encourage your child to look, touch and smell new foods.
  • Make meals and snacks interesting by including different colours, shapes and textures.

Role model, be positive and don’t give up!

  • Eat and enjoy a variety of healthy foods yourself.
  • Tastes change over time – be patient and offer new foods regularly.
  • Praise your child when they have touched, smelt or tasted a new food.
  • Resist promising rewards for eating, such as dessert. Link food to a positive benefit such as energy for playing, protein for growing muscles, calcium for strong teeth and bones.

For further information

For general information on fussy eating, please contact Population Health at Southern NSW Local Health District.  For specific advice, please contact the Central Intake Service on 1800 999 880 or

Last updated: 22 June 2020