Having a fussy eater can lead you to stress as a parent. You may constantly worry about whether or not they will decide to eat that day and what food you should prepare that they are most likely to consume. Additionally, you may stress about whether or not your child is getting the proper nutrition with their finicky palates. Before you can rise to the challenge of providing a proper diet for your picky eater, you will need first to identify what type of fussy eater you are dealing with.
4 Types of Fussy Eaters
Difficult eaters can be placed in one of four types depending on their specific aversions as well as the way they react to their food.
The perfectionist eaters are not only particular about what they eat, but they are also specific about how it is prepared and plated. If your fussy eater requires food to not touch on the plate and does not like others coming in contact with their food, you may be dealing with this type of eater. Additionally, you may find that your child will want things cooked in a specific way, such as having hot dogs that are warm but are not split. If your child is a perfectionist eater, try using sectioned plates and ban them from the kitchen when you are preparing their food.
This category of eater will exhibit a behavioural response if the food they are given is not what they want or the way they want it. Eating may result in reactions to food such as gagging or spitting it out. They will often claim the food is bad or something is wrong with it. You may also find that your little one is fighting coming to the dinner table even though they are unaware what is being served. If you have an eater that is a behavioural responder, you will have to pretty much stick it out and learn to pick your battles. If they are reacting to a particular item and not others being served, allow them to skip the one choice for the time being so that both they and you will get to eat at least part of the meal.
Typically, at some point during their childhood, your little one may be sensory dependent while eating. This reaction will usually pass, but for some children, it can continue for a long time. This type of eater will reject food due to its texture, appearance, or smell. While many people have issues with one texture or another, some children will refuse anything where the texture is considered off. This can occur from the food itself or from the way it is cooked or prepared. Additionally, they may complain that food smells bad even when the food is perfectly fresh. While you don’t want to entirely give in to their behaviour, choosing foods that do not have a strong odour or unusual texture may make for a less stressful dinner. If your child is reacting to foods necessary for them to eat, such as vegetables, try cooking them longer or shorter or mixing them in with another food.
These little ones are not particularly adventurous and like their food squared away. A preferential eater will avoid trying new food at all costs, often claiming they don’t like it or that it tastes yucky before they even have tried it. Introduce foods more slowly and allow them to pick new foods they are willing to try while shopping. This type of eater also likes their food kept separate, so it is best to keep casserole-type foods of the menu. If your recipe calls for mixing after cooking, pull out their food before combining the rest.
Having a fussy eater can make dinner time a stressful event and make you dread the dinner table. While most of these habits come and go as your child grows up, long-term food issues should be dealt with to help avoid any nutritional deficits in their diet as well as hinder the behaviour from following them into adulthood. It is important to remember that you’re not alone. Many parents will deal with a fussy eater at least some time during their parenting years.