Timing, Routine and Small Tummies


How are you going with feeding your picky and fussy kids? Still stressed? Here are a few more tips for coping with young picky eaters.


Children thrive on routine. Try keeping main meals and snack times at roughly the same time each day. Children have a strong need for rituals and for what feels familiar whether it is a bedtime routine, meal time routine or using a favourite plate. Some form of daily routine may provide a picky, fussy eater with predictability and security.

Your busy toddler may need some “quiet time” before meals. This will help them calm down a little and have time to divert their attention from play time to eating time. A table setting and hand washing routine may help with this.


Children need to eat frequently to sustain their high energy levels and rapid growth so small but frequent nutrient dense “mini meals” may be best for picky, fussy kids. This approach will maintain optimum blood sugar levels and keep the grumpiness, pickiness and tantrums at bay. Every parent knows that a hungry child is generally not a happy or co-operative child.

Try offering their main evening meal at a realistic time. Children are usually hungry around 4.30 or 5pm. Offer the main evening meal then. It is more likely to be eaten. A healthy snack or a small snack portion of the adult meal can be offered when the whole family sits down to dinner later.

I found this early evening meal strategy really helpful with my three when they were little. They were always hungriest in the afternoon after school or kindergarten so I offered a fairly substantial nutrient dense, protein and vegetable meal or “snack” at that time rather than have them fill up on other snack food. They still took part in the family evening meal but had slightly smaller helpings. For us, this resulted in much less discussions and arguments around food.

Respect Tiny Tummies:

Children’s small bodies have small tummies and fast metabolisms. A young child’s stomach is roughly just the size of their fist so serve small portions initially. They don’t need much to get full so may only want small amounts at a time but get hungry again quickly. Top up their plate with more later if they want more. Finger foods are also popular and will allow a toddler some of their desired independence.

Just a small amount of food on the plate at a time will be far less intimidating and more likely to be eaten, especially if it is a new food.

If your little one is struggling to eat what you have served on their plate, separate out a small portion for them to eat. For example, two bite sized pieces of meat, one bean and two carrot circles.

What have you found to work for you? Email me if you have found great strategies that have worked for you.

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