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Is your toddler a fussy eater? Woo the little one with these fun, nutritious recipes

If you’ve got a toddler at home, you know how challenging it can be to deal with a fussy eater. Here’s everything you need to know!
Toddlers can definitely be fussy eaters, but there’s a way to deal with them. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
Sneha Sanjay D Published: 12 Sep 2021, 14:00 pm IST
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Who is a fussy eater? A toddler who refuses to try new food at least half of the time. A child’s nutrition and food habits is a topic in every household that has a fussy toddler. As a parent or caretaker, try to understand the child’s behaviour and interests related to food.

Some toddlers go through a phase of only eating a few particular foods. This is a normal part of their development. Many toddlers experience this around the age of one to two. Picky or fussy eating is usually more prominent in the toddler and preschool years. Toddlers are in the stage of learning lots of new skills like talking, walking, running, climbing, and much more, where they become less interested in food. Also, parents should know that a toddler’s stomach is approximately the same size as a clenched fist.

Establishing healthy eating patterns is important to avoid problems such as obesity and eating disorders later in life.

Children can definitely be fussy eaters. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
Factors that may lead to fussy eating

Illness: Even a simple cold, cough or indigestion can be a reason for the child being fussy.
Tiredness: If the child is physically very active & playful most part of the day, the fussiness increases.
Emotional upset: Kids too have mood changes. Console the child and try feeding later.
Delay in texture transition of food: At the right age, various textures of food (fine pureed, hand mashed, soft solids) have to be introduced for the child to get accustomed to family food by the first birthday.

With such kids at home, the meal time can be frustrating for parents and traumatic for the kids too. The best answer to deal with the situation is not to fret, rather look into these options that can be very helpful.

There are multiple reasons why a child may be fussy about their diet. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
Here’s how parents can help their child

1. Respect the child’s appetite: As a parent, do not get too strict about what a child has to eat all the time. Give some liberty to the child to decide amongst healthy food options.

2. Recruit the child’s help: Children love being a part of simple cooking sessions, which encourage them to have food without being fussy. Involve them in activities like sorting vegetables/fruits, choosing their food from the grocery list, washing, and more.

3. Get creative: Make innovative yet simple recipes to pique their interest in food, and also let the child plate the food.

4. Avoid being a special chef for all your child’s needs: Do not budge and fulfil all the demands of a child, especially if they aren’t healthy.

5. Be patient with new foods: Gently and frequently offer new kinds of foods in different forms.

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6. Minimize distractions: Gadgets (television/tabs/mobiles) are not a great answer for all meal times.

7. Set a good example: As a family, consume mostly healthy and homemade foods. Use healthy dips such as yogurt, hummus, traditional curries or fresh cream-based salad dressings to encourage children to eat fruits, vegetables, and meats.

8. Stick to a routine: Have a specific meal timing for the children to know about the routine for everything. This also makes them feel hungry at the right time.

9. Make it fun: Toddlers are very excited to taste and eat the food offered to them in different shapes, colours and textures.

10. Don’t offer dessert as a reward: Instead offer incentives like taking them to a park, playing with them for a while or involving them in some fun activity, which encourages physical activity that improves appetite and induces hunger.

The struggle of feeding your child is real. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
Quick and healthy food options

1. Nutri muffins

Here’s what you need:

-1 egg
-Finely chopped vegetables (capsicum, onion, tomato, broccoli, coriander)
-Turmeric powder

1. Beat the whole egg.
2. Add all the mentioned ingredients.
3. Mix well and pour the mixture into the muffin tray.
4. Bake it in the oven or a preheated pressure cooker.

2. Rainbow cutlets

Here’s what you need:

-Coarsely powdered toor dal
-Thick sooji
-Vegetables (carrot, beans, grated cauliflower, amaranth, purple cabbage, peas)
-Salt and pepper powder


1. Mix the sooji and coarse powdered toor dal with salt.
2. Add water into a thick bottom vessel, while it is boiling.
3. Add toor dal sooji mixture and all kinds of finely chopped vegetables.
4. Pressure cook it to an upma consistency.
5. Add pepper powder, and mix it properly.
6. Shape it into cutlets, shallow fry on a tawa with either fresh cream or ghee.

Try some healthy recipes for your fussy toddler! Image courtesy: Shutterstock

3. Dal poori

Here’s what you need:

-Urad dal
-Whole wheat flour

1. Soak urad dal for two hours. Grind it to a fine thick paste with ½ an inch ginger.
2. To the whole wheat flour, add salt, urad dal puree, and knead it into a poori dough.
3. Roll it into different shapes and fry.

4. Health wala pancakes

Here’s what you need:

-Multigrain flour
-Dry fruits (figs, almonds, dates, sunflower seeds)

1. Dilute milk.
2. Soak all the dry fruits in warm water for half an hour.
3. Grind it to a fine paste.
4. Add all the mentioned ingredients to the multigrain flour.
5. Mix well to a dosa batter consistency.
Make a thick and soft pancake on a skillet with a blob of butter.
Honey can be added finally on the fresh pancakes, instead of mixing with the batter.

5. Moong paneer rolls

Here’s what you need:

-Moong dal
-Grated paneer
-Salt and pepper
-Jeera powder

1. Soak moong dal for two hours,
and grind it to a smooth consistency without much water.
2. Mix salt, pepper and jeera to
the batter.
3. Make a dosa on a preheated pan with oil
4. Once flipped on both sides, add grated paneer and roll it up.

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About the Author

Sneha Sanjay D is a Senior Executive Nutritionist at the Cloudnine Group of Hospitals, Bengaluru (Jayanagar). She is a Post Graduate in nutritional sciences with a specialisation on human and applied nutrition from Bangalore University. She has 10 years of experience in maternity, well-woman and child care. ...Read More

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