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Fussy Eating

Most children will have phases of being ‘picky’ about what they will and won’t eat. This might be because;

  • They aren’t that hungry – young children eat well one day and not so well another.
  • We may offer portions that are too big or they may be filling up between meals on snacks and drinks. You can read more *here*.
  • Children may feel worried about new foods, textures and tastes, and want to stick to a few familiar foods.


Children benefit from eating a wide range of different foods. This is the best way of being sure that they get a balanced diet. When your child is picky it can be a worry and feel stressful. Feeding your child well is something parents want to get right.

  • There is research to show that most children grow out of pickiness. For most children, even if they eat very limited types of food, they will still grow and develop as expected.

    You can help your child by;

    • Eating together as often as you can and showing that you eat lots of different foods.
    • Putting a different food on their plate but not putting them under pressure to eat them. Talk about the day you have had instead.
    • Letting them help you plan and cook meals.
    • Not cooking separate meals or letting them fill up on snacks in between times.
  • When parents feel worried and anxious about their child’s eating it can add to any worries that their child has about eating. Although it is not easy; staying relaxed (or pretending to be) will help take some of the pressure off you both.

    Getting cross and trying to make your child try something they do not want tends to make the fussiness worse. Bribing children with puddings and sweet treats will make them think these are the foods to look forward to. You want your child to look forward and enjoy all the great flavours of foods that you would like them to eat.

    Try not to pass on any doubts you might have about them enjoying food at a friend's house or school lunches – if you are positive it helps them feel the same.

  • Starting school and / or having friends and family round often helps fussy eaters. Eating alongside their new friends and being active and busy all day can help improve habits and appetites.

    As children get older, school lunches can give them the chance to try new things with their friends. You may be surprised what they will eat.

    Try not to pass on any doubts you might have about them enjoying food at a friend's house or school lunches – if you are positive it helps them feel the same.



Who Can Help?

You can contact the Healthy Child Programme by calling Just One Number on 0300 300 0123 or texting Parentline on 07520 631590. Our opening hours are 8am-6pm Monday-Friday (excluding bank holidays) and 9am-1pm on Saturdays.

If you are 11-19 you can text Chathealth on 07480 635060 for confidential advice from one of the Healthy Child Programme team.

To speak to other Norfolk parents and carers, you can join our online community forum below.

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