Is your toddler a fussy eater?

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Fussy eater

First refusals

A classic time for problems to arise is around the 12-month mark. 'As a child becomes more aware of the world, his natural instincts may make him suspicious of new foods,' explains clinical child psychologist Dr Angharad Rudkin, who works for the NHS and specialises in food and sibling behaviour. 'It's nature's way of protecting us from eating food that's potentially harmful.'

Experts agree that the earlier you introduce particular types of food - preferably within the first year - the more likely they are to be accepted by your children, but there are no guarantees.

Sharing mealtimes is definitely a good idea, even if you just have a sandwich while feeding your child. 'If children are fed on their own and all the attention is focused on them and their eating, they may see it as the perfect way to hold your attention and prolong meals by playing rather than eating,' suggests Dr Rudkin.

However, such is life that you can follow the rules religiously and still end up with a fussy eater. While there are very few things more frustrating than watching other children eating healthy vegetables while yours won't have anything but nuggets, the odds are that you haven't done anything wrong.

Children (just like adults) simply have different tastes and appetites. All you can do is encourage good eating habits by setting an example. If your child sees you eating and enjoying lots of different types of food, he should, eventually, copy you.

Toddlers vs tea time

If you're one of the lucky few that sailed through weaning, another common time for problems to arise is during the 'terrible twos'. Having lulled you into a false sense of security, your tot will wake one morning with dietary requirements that would make a Michelin-starred restaurant struggle.

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Wielding power is what being a toddler is all about, and there aren't many ways they can do this, apart from demanding 'red' jam sandwiches, rejecting everything green or insisting that something is their favourite food one day and yet hate it when faced with it the next.

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