6 Ways to Tell If Your Child Is a Fussy Eater or a Problem Feeder

  • Parents Only
ellaslist COVID-19 update: Please note that all the information on the website is correct at the time of publication. Please check the relevant website before visiting a venue or destination for the latest COVID-19 information. ellaslist is not responsible for any cancellations or closures.

By: Marie Ashworth, ellaslist

cooking healthy food with your kids Our son used to eat everything we gave him – sweet potato was even a favourite! That was until just after his first birthday. Around that time he decided he had an aversion to any brightly coloured fruit or vegetable that wasn’t heavily disguised in a sauce or cut so small it could be camouflaged within the depths of his spoon. As each week passed, more and more foods dropped from his accepted repertoire. In direct correlation were my increasing levels of concern. How could he be getting enough nutrition from food that was so bland and devoid of colour?

Expert Advice To Win Over The Fussiest Eater

It’s been like that for over a year but it’s something we’re not giving up on; a varied, nutritionally balanced diet is too important to a child’s wellbeing. So when I was offered the opportunity to attend Wholesome Child’s Fussy Eating Workshop, I jumped at the chance.

Run by Mandy Sacher, a qualified Paediatric Nutrition expert and mother of two, the workshop aims to arm parents with a raft of techniques to deal with food refusals alongside lots of practicals ways to tempt fussy eaters to try vegetables (although all Mandy’s advice can be applied to any food type).

We Are Not Alone

The first thing that struck me on a dark, rainy Monday evening was that my husband and I are not alone in tackling the eating issues of a young child. Around 20 Mums and Dads with children of varying ages, took to their seats, eager to learn some new strategies. Mandy backed this up by acknowledging that around 50% of toddlers can be classified as fussy eaters and that 8 out of 10 parents would like to see their children eat a more varied and nutritious diet.

How to get your child to eat more vegetablesProblem Feeding or Fussy Eating?

At the beginning of the workshop, Mandy underlined the importance of understanding the difference between Problem Feeders and Fussy Eaters. While ‘Fussy Eating’ is commonplace and can be influenced by how and what we choose to feed children, ‘Problem Feeding’ is a result of physiological or psychological issues and will probably require some additional professional intervention before children are willing to try new foods.

6 Ways To Tell If Your Child Is A Fussy Eater or Problem Feeder

Fussy eaters and Problem Feeders both share an obvious lack of variety in their diets and both will commonly request the same foods everyday. So how can you tell if your child is a ‘1 in 2’ fussy eater or has some underlying issues of a problem feeder? Mandy has come up with 6 signs that will help you decide if your child is fussy or has a problem such as an oral motor delay, sensory issues, gastro-intestinal disturbances or anxiety-food related disorders.

Signs of a Fussy Eater

Signs of a Problem Feeder


Your child will eat more than 30 different types of food (carrot, cucumber, bread, cheese, and milk – each item counts as 1)

Your child’s range of accepted foods is less than 20


Your child will eat a particular food for months e.g. ham sandwich, then go off it and refuse to eat it, however, a few weeks later he/she will happily eat it again

Your child can continuously the same thing for weeks before tiring of it and refusing to eat it even months later


Your child can tolerate new foods on their plate, touch new foods, may even (after lots of encouragement) taste a new food even if it’s not swallowed

Your child will cannot stand when a new food is placed on their plate, or even on another family member’s plates


Your child eats foods from all the different food texture groups (e.g. crunchy, soft, hard)

Certain textures are completely omitted from the diet


With lots of repetition and encouragement, you may slowly add new foods to their limited diet

You can offer all the encouragement in the world, but your child always refuses to taste a new food


Your child is happy to sit with family at mealtimes as long as they are eating a food/meal they like – which will most likely be different to rest of the family’s meal; but may include some components of family meal (e.g. will eat corn or a meatball with no sauce)

Your child eat different meals to the rest of your family the majority of the time

If you are concerned you have a problem eater and would like to contact Wholesome Child regarding a private consultation call Mandy on 02 8959 5730 or complete the Wholesome Child online contact us form.

Ready To Convert Our Fussy EaterHealthy Pear & Raspberry Muffins

I loved Mandy’s down-to-earth approach and her humour helped put everyone at ease and open to asking questions. During the workshop we explored the topics of what can cause fussy eating, food desensitisation and behavioural change techniques at mealtimes. I came away armed with lots of great advice on what could work for my son and a genuine ‘ I can do this’ attitude.

Start With What They Like & Adapt
I’m taking Mandy’s advice and starting with small steps. I’m focusing on what my son likes to eat and adapting them to a healthier version. He’s a carb lover through and through and, if he had his way, would devour breads, cakes, pasta, pancakes etc for breakfast, lunch and dinner. My aim is to start incorporating vegetables and fruit into these types of foods whenever I can. First up on my list are Raspberry & Pear Muffins and Sweet Potato Pikelets.


Arm yourself with knowledge, great advice and lots of practical techniques at Wholesome Child’s Fussy Eating Workshop.  Mandy also runs Introducing Solids, Lunchbox Solutions and Virtual Shopping Tour Workshops. Find out how ellaslist came away with fantastic ideas for healthy lunchboxes from the Lunchbox Solutions Workshop.

Check out the Wholesome Child website for future dates.

Book Now for the Workshop