WITH food prices sky-high, young fussy eaters are costing the nation’s families a fortune.
New Mumsnet research shows that 86% of parents end up throwing away part of their children’s main meal, even though nearly half (45%) of mums and dads spend more on food now than a year ago.
Separate research, from the European Toddler Nutrition Index (ETNI), shows that UK toddlers are the most likely in Europe to refuse food (69%), with 43% of UK mums letting their toddler get away with not eating certain foods, and 38% giving in to their child’s food refusal within the first five minutes.
Not surprisingly, toddlers’ fussy eating leaves half of mums frustrated, another 38% worried, and some even angry (12%).
The Mumsnet survey, which was commissioned to launch Food February, a month-long celebration of food and nutrition on the parents’ networking site, found that only 12% of parents have a rule that their children eat everything on their plate, and two-thirds (66%) of mums and dads finish off their children’s leftovers.
“Parents often go to huge lengths to lovingly cater for their family’s food tastes but it doesn’t seem to be stopping the waste,” says Mumsnet co-founder Justine Roberts.
“Very few of us insist on our children finishing their meals and instead the majority of parents end up polishing off the leftovers.”
For the sake of parents’ waistlines, purses and peace of mind, they need to be stricter at the table, explains British Dietetic Association spokesperson Melissa Little.
“Pretty much every toddler will go through a fussy eating phase,” she warns, “and it’s how you deal with that phase that dictates how long it lasts.
“Parents need to be firm to help their children learn to eat properly. The really important thing is not to make a big deal out of it. Don’t let your child see you getting worked up because if they do, they will too.”