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It’s common but can cause a lot of parental anxiety

Fussy eating is common in toddlers. Feeding a child is a highly emotive experience that causes great parental anxiety. I can completely understand this from a parent’s point of view, but also a professional one. Eating preferences and patterns during the toddler years can be linked with those later in life, but you don’t want to pressurise your child to eat, rather feed responsively and create a relaxed, positive environment and nutrition will follow. There are many strategies that can help with fussy eating but there are ones that can make it worse.

What is fussy eating?

‘‘Picky/fussy’ eaters are usually defined as children who consume an inadequate variety of foods through rejection of foods that are familiar (and unfamiliar) to them.

Most fussy eating resolves over time with the right strategies, although if you are worried it is important to seek advice as in a small number of cases Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID) can develop. ARFID is defined as an eating or feeding disturbance resulting in persistent failure to meet appropriate nutritional or energy needs (and not caused by another disorder such as anorexia nervosa). This includes significant weight loss, faltering growth, major nutritional deficiency or dependence on enteral feeding and nutritional supplements.

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