10 Little Known Tactics To Make a Fussy Eater Eat Properly

how to make a fussy eater eat
10 little known ways to make a fussy eater eat

My 1 year old niece was a fussy eater. When I had gone to Kerala, her fussiness shocked me.

Every meal time was a fight; a war zone between her and her mom. My sister in law used to crib, plead and even shout at her daughter so that she would gulp down at least 2 to 3 teaspoons of food.

My niece used to keep food in the mouth for a long time when fed. My sister in law complained to me ‘what else she I can give her, she is least interested in food’.

Well let me share with you the 10 time and tested tactics to make a picky eater eat properly.

10 Time and Tested Ways To Make a Fussy Eater Eat Properly:

I have given about 10 pointers. See what all have you tried for your little one and which one is missed out.

Following these tactics will definitely make a difference to the fussiness of your baby or kid.

#1. Variety is the key:

Take a look at the menu card in your company canteen or a hostel.

It will have a different course and variety for each day. This is to ensure that the employees or inmates are not fed up with the monotony of having the same food, same taste everyday.

Do you give your baby or toddler the same food everyday? If yes its time to change!

Imagine you are fed muesli – dal khichdi- milk shake – roti mixed vegetable curry-milk the first day.

The next day the same menu is served. It continues everyday of your life. Won’t you be fed up? Bugged at the same food offered again and again?

The same applies to babies and toddlers as well.

Add a lot of variety in their food, don’t offer the same foods or follow the same routine.

Introduce a new vegetable or fruit separately rather than combining a lot many fruits or vegetables.

If you are giving ragi porridge- mixed vegetable soup– khichdi- roti with bhindi; next day replace the entire menu with new items like broken wheat upma / porridgetomato soup – vegetable pulav – aaloo paratha.

This breaks the monotony, generates an interest for food in babies and toddlers.

The month wise food charts in Bumps n Baby serve this purpose entirely well.

#2. Different Cutlery:

I remember a reader sometime back had sent in a query to me regarding her daughter.

Her daughter eats pretty well in the daycare. The strange thing is that she hates the food served in her house and becomes fussy.

The poor mother tried everything she could, even adding the same masala to the curries as used in the daycare. But all in vain, her daughter didn’t eat well as she expected.

I suggested to introduce the same plates, spoons and other cutlery as used in the daycare. Then she remembered that her daughter used to accept fruits if it was served in the yellow bowl similar to the one offered in her daycare.

Babies and kids often get used to a habit pretty fast ; be it a person, a thing for that matter. Its not necessary that you should replace the entire cutlery used for your baby.

But there is no harm in replacing the bigger spoon with a smaller one, a plate with a bowl and so especially if he or she is used to a daycare environment.

#3. Change of place:

The place of feeding has an important role as well.

You can either invest in a high chair or a baby chair to make him sit while feeding. This helps to set up a routine during meal times.

When the food is to be served, he should be seated in the high chair or on his colorful baby chair.

If you don’t wish to spend a bomb on high chair or other baby chairs, change the place for every meal time.

Breakfast you can show him the nature in the verandah, a book within a room for the lunch time, evening snacks in a chair or a sofa and dinner in a different room.

I know the space constraint as majority of us live in flats. But still we have to make a space for our kid’s meal times if its possible.

#4. Distractions in the form of songs and rhymes:

Distractions often mean TV, ipads or phones. But here I am referring to the meaningful distractions.

The distractions are singing rhymes, talking to your baby, mimicking sounds, showing things like animals, birds or even handing over things he is interested to play with.

A glass of water with a spoon can be an excellent distraction for a fussy eater.

Be prepared for the mess and make sure you never get bugged at the spillage that happens or trip on the spillage.

#5. Add a little bit of flavor in the form of spices:

This is applicable to only babies above 10 months.

Add a little spice. No I didn’t mean the fiery red chilly powder or hot chillies to be added.

There are a lot many spices like cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, peppercorns or the whole garam masala which can be introduced from 10th month on wards.

My daughter for example loves the mixed vegetable pulav a lot. May be the whole garam masala added to it gives her a liking for it time again and again.

If your little one rejects the dal khichdi try a drop of the mixed vegetable stew from your breakfast or less spicy sambhar you made for lunch along with it.

Please note only a teaspoon of gravy is required for the whole khichdi to be fed.

Try to introduce healthy spices in your baby’s food slowly. Please make sure you take a note of the homemade multi-purpose spice powder for babies and toddlers.

In fact pediatricians advise parents to start every food eaten by the adults in a much less spicier version to babies as well.

#6. Presentation:

This trick is applicable for 1 and a half year old and above toddlers.

My daughter first nods NO to a new food offered though she likes it afterwards 😛 Presentation of the food provided is the key!

All toddlers take the sight of the food for its taste. Even we adults do isn’t?

When we are offered a food at the hotel the first thing that attracts us is the presentation of the dish followed by aroma which makes us crave for that food triggering our salivary glands.

Make your food as presentable as you can. Beautify, decorate it with cut vegetables, fruits and boiled eggs.

Older children can be involved in the cooking process and presentation as well so that they stop fussing about food offered to them.

#7. Adequate gap between meals:

I remember my neighbor complaining about the fussiness of her daughter.

I examined the food pattern followed by her mom.

It was like this :

Morning – formula, then a heavy breakfast of steamed kerala banana, within half an hour comes boiled eggs followed by orange juice and lunch consisting of brown rice with a stir fry.

When her daughter rejects food, she complains she is a fussy eater. You know what’s the problem here ?

The heavy foods that are given without an adequate gap!

Ideally the gap between solids and liquids should be 3-4 hours for a baby above 10 months. If he or she is fed formula, its heavy and can make the baby fuller for long.

Have an ideal gap of 3-4 hours between every meals so that the food can be properly digested and baby could accept the next meal without a fuss.

Limit the whole grain foods to once a day. High fiber foods more than once provided to baby can often make him feel full for long.

#8. No force feeding:

The top most mantra to make a fussy eater eat is to stop force feeding.

As mothers we get angry at the tight lipped baby or toddler who keeps foods in his mouth for long. We often feel that they test our patience and try to force food into their mouth.

Forcefeeding never works but triggers the anger and fussiness even more 😛

If a baby or toddler doesn’t accept a food try not to force but discard it after 2 or 3 attempts.

Always make a small batch of food which could help in reduction of food wastage as well.

#9. Too many fluids/ liquids and snacks:

This is an important tip. Cut out the excess amount of milk and fluids given to your baby or toddler.

Have you seen babies becoming tight lipped once they have taken enough breastfeed? They wont even open their mouth even though we force them to. It’s known as ‘mitaahaar’ depicting babies often know when they are full and act accordingly.

For a 1 year and above milk anywhere in the range of 350-500 ml is more than enough. This includes the amount of milk added in his porridge, kanji and direct feeds as well.

Similar is the intake of water.

Don’t force so much of water for your baby or toddler. His tummy might get full especially if given before a main meal.

You can read about the amount of water to be given to your baby or toddler.

#10. Have mealtimes together:

You might have experienced this. When your baby is 8 months or so he shows interest in the food from our plate. Given a bite he will graciously accept it too.

This tactic can help a lot in the case of fussy eaters. Have mealtimes together especially dinner.

My daughter for example was and is interested to pick up food from her dad’s plate. If it’s offered to her directly she rejects it though.

Apply the same strategy with your fussy eater. Let him choose what he wants to eat from his dad’s or mom’s plate.


Often babies keep food in their mouth. But its just a phase. It will pass.

Fussiness might be caused by a lot many factors. But it would fade with time provided we take care of the reason for the fussiness.

Hope my 10 pointers on the 10 little known tactics to make a fussy eater eat properly will help you too.

PS: My niece is no more a fussy eater. She eats well and healthy too 🙂 Addition of the less spicy gravy was a great hit with her.

Share with me what is that fool proof method you have tried to make your fussy eater eat and how far you have succeeded.

Please share this article in your Facebook and twitter.

Please subscribe to the newsletters of Bumps n Baby to stay updated.


About Author

Sangeetha loves balancing her personal and professional life. These days, the major chunk of her time is spent on listening to 'how to beat the Piggy from robloks'; thanks to her 8 year old daughter.


  1. Hi Sangeetha,

    I would like your help on how to start introducing solid food to my 1.5 yr old daughter. We have been giving her food like you advised but in the liquid form because she never eats food otherwise–just has 1 or 2 handful and then she spits it out.
    After that if she is not full–then she will be cranky the whole day. I would really like to stop this spoon / bottle feeding and start her on this solid food.
    Could you please help me out? i have been trying out various ways –but nothing has worked till now.



  2. Hi Sangeetha,

    Totally agree with your 10 pointers !! My 1.5 yr daughter was in this phase for the past few months. As mothers, we become so tensed when the little ones refuse to eat. I used to force feed her when I lost my patience and she turned out to be even more cranky. After trying out several methods , she’s interested in her food now. As you said, it’s just another phase of growing up. This is what I learnt from this phase: Instead of calling our LO a fussy eater, we need to find out the actual reason for their fussiness. We need to be very patient during this phase and try out different methods to make them eat. I completely stopped force feeding and took enough gaps between each meal. Also, she was interested to eat food by herself, so just let her to do so. Did not bother about cleaning up the mess after that 🙂

  3. These days I hardly feed Jianna. She eats all by herself, of course there is a lot of mess made and big time cleaning afterwards but as long as she eats, I just don’t mind the work at all.

  4. Hey.. yes variety is the key.. n of course in my case a separate spoon and a plate served with the same stuff for her to eat on her own.. she loves to eat on her own.. but that means .. a mini bath for her after that ..coz she the food is all over.. but this works.. giving her the right to have her own food.. licking and licking the spoon n the plate.. hahaha..

Leave A Reply