Children can be unpredictable when it comes to eating. It is common for their likes and dislikes to change day-to-day. Stay calm when your child seems to be acting “picky” such as refusing to eat or try certain foods. Being creative, staying patient and continuing to offer new foods without a fuss can help your child enjoy mealtimes and develop lifelong healthy eating habits.

Parents need to help their child learn how to eat while respecting when their child is hungry or full. The most important thing is that your child is growing well for their age.

Reasons Your Child Eats Less or Refuses Foods

Growth: Children grow at different rates, there may be days where they eat more food than others.

How they are feeling: They may be tired, upset, sick, or stressed.

Distractions: They may rather play or watch TV.

Pressure: If you are doing anything special to get your child to eat more, less or eat different foods you may be pressuring your child. Any kind of pressure does not work.

Taste: They have a natural sensitivity to taste, smell, shape and texture. Or they may simply not like the food.

They fear something new: Young children tend to be scared of new or unknown foods.

Independence: Young children prefer feeding themselves and like to be able to choose what they eat. If pressured, they may refuse food to show their independence.

For attention: Children may refuse food to gain their parents’ or caregivers’ attention.

Role modelling: If a family member or another child refuses to eat a specific food, your child may copy or learn this behaviour.

Drinking too much fluid: They may be filling up on milk or juice and may not be interested in eating.

Food allergies/intolerance:  Some children may have serious food allergies, intolerances, or medical problems affecting their senses, such as their sense of taste. This can cause discomfort or illness with certain foods and this is different from simply refusing to eat. If this is a concern, it is important to seek medical advice.

How to Build Healthy Habits