Cradle2Kindy - Bringing Confidence to Parenting


Fussy Feeders

Friday, April 01, 2011
Having worked amongst many babies and toddlers who either fuss at the breast/bottle or are refusing or fussy with their solids I would like to discus some of the reasons I have found are quite common causes of this fussiness.  Fussy feeders covers quite a large age range from newborns through to childhood and can be due to various reasons and therefore should be looked at closely to decide if or not is behavioural or is there some other more sinister cause.  In this article I would like to look at some of the behaviour that is a common causes of fussy feeding.


Firstly let’s take a look at newborns.  When first learning to feed breast fed babies often fuss with attachment, bobbing their heads around trying to latch or coming off and on if the flow is too fast or too slow or to adjust their latch.  A fast teat can also cause a bottle fed baby to come off and on the teat.   This behaviour is all quite normal and the fussing will eventually subside as they and their parents learn to adjust.


From the age of 3 months babies become very aware of their environment and are often distracted while feeding.  They may stop sucking just to give you a smile, look around the room or come off when someone comes into their view just to be social.  This is quite normal behaviour.  If you want to feed without to many distractions find a quiet room and wait till after the feed to interact with your baby.

Toddler and Child

Toddlers on the other hand have realised they have some control over when, how and what they what to eat.  They are trying out their independence and their new found power in making their own decisions and choices (typical for two year olds).  They may fight to get into the highchair, fight with who feeds them or want to totally feed themselves.  They now know what foods they prefer and what they dislike and may begin to refuse these foods.   Some children who fuss at mealtimes are attention seeking, it has become a game of ‘watch my parents reaction when I refuse to eat’.  All these behaviours can be just a normal part of growing up.

Force Feeding

Unfortunately many parents aggravate the situation through having unrealistic ideas of how much food should be eaten.  Never force a child to eat even if you think they haven’t eaten enough they will make up for it at another meal or on another day.

Behavioural Fussy Feeder

In most situations it is better not to bring attention to fussy eating as this frequently generates a greater problem.  Children are attention seekers and if they can’t get the attention through good behaviour will use disruptive or negative behaviour to bring attention to themselves.  If we praise our children for their good behaviour and ignore much of their antisocial behaviour they are less likely to continue the bad behaviour.  Never fight with your child over food it just becomes a battle of wills.  It is better to pretend to be indifferent to what they eat and eventually their eating will improve.

Children’s Meals

As long as your child is not grazing on snacks all day or filling up on milk between meals they will generally eat because they are hungry.  Some children are happy with one good meal a day, others, one every second day.  When offering morning and afternoon tea offer nutritious foods such as raw vegetable or fruit.

Allow your child to feed him/herself, even if it means cleaning up a big mess after them.  Don't always mix all their food together, give enough variety so they have nutritious foods they like as well as the choice of foods they may not enjoy.  Dieticians have noted that a child needs to try some foods 10 times before they like them.  Don't be afraid to try new foods.

Keep in mind this fussy feeding phase usually passes if you do not made a fuss of it.  If your child really doesn’t like some foods such as vegetables then there are ways to disguise them in different recipes.  Take a look at our recipe page.

If you are concerned about your child’s eating seek advice from your family doctor or Paediatrician.

If you would like more information on topics relating to children from newborn to 5 yrs old, such as breast or bottle feeding, encouraging your child to eat, table manners, or other behavioural issues please take a look at our e-book Publications.

Cradle 2 Kindy Parenting Solutions also has home visit to help with various issues.  If you would like to know more please give Sally a call on 0409 721 145.

Next month we take a look at the fussy feeders who really don’t eat enough.

This article was written by mothercraft nurse Sally Hall from Cradle 2 Kindy Parenting Solutions.  Call and find out how we can provide professional guidance to help you raise your children.

For more information on similar parenting topics you may like take a look at our e-books Publications on this link.

Disclaimer: Articles on our website are for education purposes only.  Please consult with your doctor to make sure this information is right for your child.

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