17 August 2023
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Fussy eating can lead to stressful and prolonged mealtimes, delayed oro-motor skills, and poor health outcomes including nutrient deficiencies (eg iron), slow growth and constipation.

Early intervention is required when fussy eating is caused by sensory sensitivities with food textures, or when it leads to highly restricted diets (less than 15 to 20 different foods) or challenging behaviours at mealtimes.

Children may require referral to speech pathology and/or occupational therapy.

When and how to refer

Mealtime strategies

  • Set up routines – Serve food at the same time and in the same place each day.
  • Create an engaging mealtime environment – Remove distractions (eg screens, toys) and share meals together as a family to model positive mealtime behaviours like trying new foods.
  • Encourage food exploration and play – Participate together in food preparation and play games with food like sorting by colour or texture, or building houses.
Start Them Right: A parent’s guide to eating for under 5s

This article was written by members of the ‘Stronger Seeds, Taller Trees’ project which includes professionals from a number of government and non-government organisations in South Western Sydney. The group aims to support GPs working with families to navigate and access timely services when they have a concern about a child’s development.