Got a pre-schooler who’s a fussy eater? You’re not alone. Although common, catering to the needs of growing children who routinely reject what they are given can be hard to handle. Sometimes, it’s not just the taste that’s the problem, but the look, feel, colour, texture and even the name of some foods!

Luckily, there is light at the end of the tunnel, with many simple ideas often enough to not only be acceptable to your little fussy eater, but to inspire them to come back with that heart-warming request: “Please mum – can I have some more?”

So, before despairing, try these six ideas on for size:

1. Happy snacks

Make Sandwiches Fun!

Make Sandwiches Fun!

One of the easiest ways to make food more appealing to children is the oldest trick in the book – dress it up. Try sticking to your instincts, but add just a little bit of fun and flair. Cut out some happy star or flower-shaped pieces of cheese to add to the top of that normal roll, or cut the halves of the sandwich into love-heart shapes.

Use your imagination and make food look like fun.

2. Cut up fruit

Parents often wonder why a delicious and healthy apple or banana is returned at the end of the day, but have you tried cutting them up? If possible, leave the apple or fruit skin on for fibre, and for something really fun, use a safe paddle pop stick and make an easy and healthy fruit kebab.

3. Healthy baked treats

If they won’t eat your healthy lunch, they’d almost certainly eat a cake, right? So make them some healthy bakery products like pikelets, scones or scrolls, and if you have to head down that ‘cake’ road, make them as healthy as possible by looking up fruit loaf or banana and carrot cakes, or trying our carrot and lemon powders as healthy cake ingredients.

4. Lunchbox fillers

Often, children will discard the ‘main’ lunch box items and happily munch on those lunchbox fillers – in order of tastiness. So make sure the fillers are both healthy and tasty, with dried fruit or vegetable sticks ideal.

Kids also love crunchy treats, so put some yummy breakfast cereal in that snack bag, rather than chips.

5. Popcorn

Kids Love Popcorn!

Kids Love Popcorn!

Yes, it’s really very healthy! Only when mass produced and soaked in buttery and salty flavours does popcorn become bad for you, because if you make your own, all you are doing is ‘popping’ the kernel so that what is inside ‘pops’ into the world. The kids will love the process of making it, too!

6. Sandwich alternatives

Getting those sandwiches rejected? Have you tried a cheese toastie with baked beans, wrapped in aluminium foil to keep in the freshness? What about a wrap, rolled into a cool pinwheel, or – if you’re feeling really inspired – a Mexican-inspired quesadilla? Need something new for that all-important protein? Try our ginger chicken burger recipe.