My child refuses to try new foods. What can I do?

Toddlers and pre-schoolers don't always have big appetities and can be fussy with their food choices. Make sure you provide healthy food options and offer each food to your child to taste. It is up to them to decide how much of the food to eat. Try not to make a fuss over foods, as this may make the problem worse.

To manage a fussy eater, try the following strategies:
  • Make sure your child has not filled up on drinks or sometimes foods before a meal or snack.
  • Stick to a regular mealtime routine.
  • Make the mealtime enjoyable.
  • Don’t bribe or punish your child for refusing to eat.
  • Keep trying to introduce foods that your child has previously refused. Sometimes children need to see a new food at least 10 times before they finally taste it.
  • When offering a new food, offer some familiar foods as well.
  • Be a good role model by eating the same foods that you are offering your child.
  • Set a time limit of around 20 minutes for a meal. After that time, remove any uneaten food and let your child leave the table. Do not offer other food or drinks until the next planned meal or snack.
  • Try to always stay calm and don’t make a fuss if your child refuses to eat or only eats a small amount.
Remember - children will not allow themselves to starve. If they are healthy and active, there is probably nothing to worry about if they are refusing to eat. However if you are concerned about your child's eating behaviours, talk to your doctor or an Accredited Practising Dietitian.