Skip to content

Fussy eating

Picky or fussy eating is a common problem all parents face at some point often making mealtimes a misery. In most cases it's just a phase but that doesn’t make it any easier to deal with and many parents become stressed when food is refused.

Here is a simple list ​of the most important Dos and Don’ts to help overcome fussy eating.

Do Do Not

Limit a child’s milk to 1 pint/day.

Leave the drink to the end of a meal.

Allow a child to fill up on milk, juice or fizzy drinks before or after meals.

Allow a child to drink water when thirsty.

Offer an alternative when a meal is refused.

Make a fuss when a meal is refused.

Give excessive praise when meals are eaten.

Offer new and previously refused foods every few days.

Assume if it is refused today, it will be refused for life.

Give choice between 2 non-favourite foods.

Give choice between 1 liked and 1 disliked foods.

Offer 3 meals & 3 snacks a day. Be inventive - use an ice tray and put different bite size foods in each section.

Go for long periods without food.

Limit meal times to 30mins and snacks 15mins.

Have long drawn out meals.

Follow child with food when they leave the table.

Eat with children, and make mealtimes a happy family occasion.

Let children eat on their own.

Make fun food when time allows eg. Milkshakes, banana splits.

Involve children in baking.


Keep a list of foods children will eat and add the new foods in a formal fashion.

Allow your frustration to become obvious.

Buy individually wrapped food eg. Yoghurts, cereals & crackers.

Reading a story at meal times can serve as a distraction so a child “forgets” about his/her food fad.

Allow children to eat while watching television as a distraction tool.

Related pages

education news logo

Sign up for updates on education resources and news.

Safefood logo

The site content is redirecting to the NI version.