What to do with poorly eating children?

Many parents have to deal with this: your child does not or hardly wants to eat anything. Fruit and vegetables in particular are often unpopular. Is this a phase or is there more going on? When should you worry and what can you do to improve the situation?

What you shouldn’t do

First of all, it is good to mention what you should not do if your child eats little or nothing. Most actions parents take involve some form of coercion, bribery or improper attention. However, this can lead to your child hating food and the eating ritual, while the (evening) meal is the time of the day to be together as a family.

Coercing, punishing and rewarding incorrectly

You may recognize or have used the following methods:

  • “You are not allowed to leave the table until you have eaten enough”
  • “You have to clear your plate”
  • “If you don’t want to eat, just go to the hallway”
  • “If you don’t eat, you don’t get dessert”

The above methods will not work and often have a counterproductive effect. The eating ritual should not be a struggle for you and your child.


It is important to teach your child at an early age to eat what you eat, or in other words, eat what is available. So don’t prepare food separately for your child because you think that your child will at least eat it. The risk is that your child will assume that he always gets what he wants to eat and has certain expectations. The taste of food is constantly changing for a child; What it doesn’t like one time, it likes another time. Therefore, feel free to offer food that your child does not like again a week later, for example. Don’t try to hide the food under a layer of applesauce or sauce. This camouflages the actual taste of the food, preventing your child from getting to know the real taste. Moreover, it is also unhealthy.

What you are especially allowed to do

Fortunately, there are still a lot of ways left that you can try. It is a good idea to keep track of what your child eats each day for a few days. This will give you a better idea of what your child is currently consuming and where you encounter problems. You may discover that your child eats more than you think.


Eating the same thing every day is boring and will disappoint you in the long run. This is especially true in children. So vary well with vegetables, fruit, meat, etc. Who knows, you might come across food that your child likes and you can prepare this more often than the other. If your child does not like cooked vegetables, you can also try raw vegetables, such as tomatoes, cucumber, etc. Also vary by, for example, putting vegetables and fruit in the blender (separately) and making a fruit smoothie or a tasty vegetable sauce for with the pasta. It’s something different and your child won’t notice that he or she is still eating fruit or vegetables.

Decide and choose together

Does your child like to help you with all kinds of things? Then let him/her help with cooking. Of course, do something that suits your child’s age, such as stirring a pan, kneading dough, mixing salad or sauces and possibly cutting something with a sharp knife. Children are then very proud that they can help and of what they have made and usually eat better. Let your child choose what he wants to eat or give him a choice between a number of dishes. Your child likes to be involved in the cooking and eating process and will also try harder.All in all, these are quite a few tips, but every child is different and sometimes you have to be a little patient. Of course, it could just be a phase and eating will start again later. Don’t stress about it either, because your child will notice this and may also react stressed. Be relaxed and keep trying!

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