Fussy eater? It is normal!

I sometimes meet mothers who have concerns about the nutrition of their children because they don’t like to eat many vegetables. Even though they used to eat vegetables and fruits puree when they were 1 year old, some kids suddenly reject vegetables, particularly green coloured vegetables, when they become 2-3 years old. It seems natural to change their preference as their taste buds are very sensitive to taste and texture. Also, it depends on their ability to chew and swallow.

For instance, my first child, who is 3 years old…

She couldn’t chew strong enough until 2.5 years old, so she didn’t like nuts, cucumbers, red meat, etc… However, once her jaw became stronger, she loved cashews, cucumbers, steaks, and apples. On the other hand, she doesn’t like mushy food such as smoothies or porridge, which she used to eat a lot.

Same as taste. She didn’t like ice cream or mango when she was 2 years old, but now she loves them. As she gets older, she tries many different tastes, and her taste buds develop. Do you remember wanting to try coffee, wine, or beer as your parents drank when you were younger? Did you like the taste? Probably not. However, as you get older, you start liking the bitterness. I think that similar things are happening to children.

Observe and keep trying

When kids have dislikes, there are a couple of reasons. Texture? Colour? Smell? Taste? It depends on the children. Just observe them or ask them (if they are older). Or it could be the situation or environment. I noticed that my daughter didn’t eat broccoli in her lunchbox at daycare, even though she eats them at home. I haven’t asked her the reason, but I assume that broccoli is not her favorite, she may become full of other food, or perhaps nobody else has broccoli in their lunch boxes… It could be a number of reasons.

If children like particular foods such as Bolognese or curry, try to add finely chopped vegetables. If your children like smoothies, try different fruits and vegetables one by one.

A few tips for fussy eaters…

As I mentioned earlier, it can be normal for small kids to be fussy about food preferences. There are a few tips that you can try.

1, Grow vegetables at home

My husband loves gardening, and my kids have loved helping his garden, putting soil, or picking leaves since they started walking. Gardening or handling soil is a great way to enhance the immune system (which is a different topic). My daughter is not such a fussy eater, but she prefers sweets (of course!) and rice/bread. She still eats broccoli, tomatoes, and cucumbers, but these are not her favorites. When we grew snake beans in our garden, she was so excited about harvesting so many and ate a lot every day. Growing things, observing the changes, and getting involved would be so interesting for young children. Try to grow a few vegetables, such as tomatoes or beans (they are relatively easy) at home.

2, Cook together

Children love doing what adults are doing. Your kids would love to cook with you. Start showing cooking from an early age, and ask them to help with a few things which they can do. For instance, washing vegetables/fruits together, peeling vegetable skin, cutting vegetables/fruits, starting from bananas or mushrooms with a cutlery knife, building up confidence, and starting using a real knife (a small knife for kids’ hand would be ideal). This would interest kids in food and vegetables, and it also develops their motor skills.

3, Sit and eat together

How many times does your family get together and eat every day?  I totally understand that we are busy and there is no time to relax and eat together. However, it is very important for better digestion. As a naturopath, I always recommend not eating on the run and eating mindfully for proper digestion, which is key to being healthy. Show how parents eat and what they eat. Children understand and eat whatever is available at home.


Enjoy your meals and show them what you eat.

Please do not insist they eat. They will eventually grow out of it!

Do not stress too much! If you have concerns about your children’s development or nutrition, don’t hesitate to get in touch with me for a personalised consultation.



Rio is a clinical naturopath interested in women's health and lifestyle.

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