Dealing with mealtime fussiness: mums share their tips

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What do you do when your baby is fussy at mealtimes?

When he gets distracted and seems uninterested in what you're trying to feed him?

We know a lot of parents go through this at different stages of their child's life, whether they're babies or toddlers. It can be frustrating, worrying, and turn into a battle of wills that makes everyone unhappy. 

But it doesn't have to be like that - there are tricks and tips that can work wonders with fussy little ones. 

So we asked our followers on Facebook for their advice on dealing with kids who just aren't into their food, for whatever reason. 

We got lots of great tips in return - you can read the rest and join the discussion on the Essential Baby Facebook page, or see our pick below.

• "'Experiencing' food is really important, so let him use his hands, and get dirty – some will eventually go in his mouth and he might like it."

• " Always include something he likes on the plate to get him going."

• "Try baby led weaning. Our kid is 17 months and still eats whatever we do – just with less salt."

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• " Don't stress and don't make it a battle. If he is hungry he will eat. And always have good healthy options, even if he doesn't eat."

• "He might want some independence – let him pick what he wants off the plate. It could also just be a developmental phase, so remember that this can pass."

• "Make sure you're eating when he's not too tired, and when he's not too full of snacks or drinks. Also don't let him get too hungry, as this can make him out of sorts and harder to deal with." 

• " Don't stop trying a certain food! If you find he doesn't like it one day, remember to try it again."

• " The best advice I ever got was put them in front of the TV or a movie with their food. They will be distracted and keep nibbling."

• "I put a drop mat underneath the high chair, then tip food on the tray and let them go to town.  It gets everywhere but my boys ate lots (then bathtime after)!"

• " When my son got fussy it turned out he was ready for finger food and feeding himself. It had got to the point where he would refuse the spoon and we would have to distract with a toy. Then we tried all the foods suggested by health nurses and he started eating more – but he still prefers plain old meat and peas, or sausages!"

• " It's worth just giving what's on your plate for your baby to try – if they don't like it, there's no wastage. You might be surprised at what is hit and miss."

• "We found out daughter didn't really want to eat something until she had fully 'investigated' it (unless it was hot chips, chicken nuggets or chocolate, of course!). Let them have a play with it to try it all first."  

• " Don't overthink it, don't force anything, and try not to stress. Your bub won't starve themself."

• " Depending on bub's age, let them pick up their own food. My almost 14-month-old eats more if he feeds himself."

• "This sounds mad but I've done it and it works: when making food, serve it differently. Make it look interesting making – mash potato to turn it into a snowman, or make sandwiches using a cookie cutter to make it more fun. Good luck!"

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Tips have been edited for clarity and length.