More often than not, my two and a half year old turns down dinner. He takes one look at the lovingly prepared – and, I assure you, very tasty – meal, and says, ‘No. Don’t like dinner.’
Even dishes that should be a surefire hit, like pasta or a proper roast, can be spurned. (He only eats the Yorkshire pudding.)
He’s now started refusing even child-friendly food that he used to previously tuck into happily, like fish fingers and mashed potato. I don’t think he’s losing weight – so he’s obviously getting enough calories at his other meals. But nevertheless, I’m really very worried. My middle child was a fussy eater, yes. But not to this extent.
It’s time to call in the big guns.
‘Between the ages of 18 months and six years, children tend to develop something called neophobia, or the fear of the new,’ says Dr Emma Haycraft, a senior lecturer in psychology and a child feeding researcher at Loughborough University.
‘It manifests itself in a suspicion of all new food – and even of food that has previously been eaten. Your child might also be funny about different foods touching each other on the plate.’