All parents of young children, especially during the toddler years, would agree that their children were fussy with food at some point. Fussy or picky eating happens during the toddler years when a child starts to have food preferences. This phase can be mild to severe but most get over it before the age of seven years.

Such behaviour has a biological reason behind it. As humans, we are designed to prefer sweeter foods and dislike bitter ones as it may signify something toxic. Children also have more taste buds than adults (we lose them as we age) so the flavor of foods is amplified for little ones.

Fussy eaters are a varied bunch. They may eat very slowly or eat a limited variety of foods. They may eat small meals and are usually disinterested in food, especially when it is something new. Fussy eaters especially do not like fruits and vegetables. They may eat something preferred for weeks and yet that same favourite may be on the floor the next.

Therefore, parents have to provide them a variety of nutritious food (adequate in carbohydrate, protein, fat, vitamins and minerals) in appropriate portions so that they get their recommended daily requirements. Minimizing distractions such as television, gadgets etc., making food colourful and interesting or using (age appropriate) cutlery can help reduce picky eating. When a child prefers to eat by himself, do not let anger/disappointment take over the joy of seeing your child be independent – allow him to make a mess, if that is what it takes!