Infant nutritionist / Makes Ella's Good
Food refusal (either turning up their noses at new foods or rejecting foods that have previously been accepted) is really common among little kids + is a completely normal part of their development so try not to take it personally – it's not your parenting or your cooking skills!
There are countless reasons why little kids reject previously accepted foods. It might be because of their colour, shape, texture or taste and it’s just your toddler trying to work out what’s safe to them. Our ancestors would reject food that tasted bitter, smelled off, that looked brown or mouldy, or felt squishy + slimy because these were signs that the food might not be safe to eat!
Unfortunately, healthy foods like green vegetables taste bitter and other foods can be squishy or slimy, like banana. While the rejection response might once have been protective against eating poisonous foods, it now is more likely to result in a big “NO!” to broccoli.
Food refusal doesn’t mean your toddler is fussy or picky. It’s a normal part of development. But some little kids can become fussy, and this is, in part, due to genetics and the reason why some will be pickier than others.
Food refusal + fussiness can be a phase that usually hits its peak around the age of 2 years but don't worry! It does pass with time. There are lots of things you can do to navigate this tricky period and avoid mealtime battles.
Lots of research shows that repeatedly offering a rejected food can increase its familiarity and eventually lead to acceptance. This can take 15-20 separate experiences of that food though, so you might want to make a note of how many times you’ve offered that food on a tracker or in an app [link to: https://www.childfeedingguide....].
A lot of the advice on navigating the fussy phase aims to improve familiarity with that food via experience. An experience of a food doesn’t necessarily mean it has been tasted. It can be touching a raw piece of broccoli, helping with the cooking, even if the food doesn’t go on their plate, or putting the food to their lips without tasting it. It all counts and these experiences can be less wasteful than throwing away food multiple times at mealtimes without it being eaten.
It’s all about getting to the magic number of 15-20 experiences, which can feel daunting but here are some ways to help that don’t just involve putting a rejected food on your toddler’s plate 20 times!
Did you know we have over 100 quick + easy recipes for you + your little one to make at home! From very first tastes all the way to the big table, there's something yummy for the whole family to enjoy – including fussy little eaters!
Take a peek and get cooking!
Lots of our recipes include top tips on how to engage the senses or get your little one involved + having fun when cooking…enjoy!
There are lots of things you can do to help create a healthy relationship with food for your toddler
Follow these simple steps to build a balanced plate + you’ll soon be a pro at giving your toddler variety + nutritionally balanced meals