If getting your kids to eat something other than plain pasta noodles or anything sugar-loaded is a test of patience, chances are it’s not your parenting style, it’s genetic. So, it’s you… but it’s not you.
A study published in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry tracked more than 1,900 pairs of 16-month-old twins’ eating habits using data pulled from a questionnaire recorded by mom and dad. Both identical twins (to see what 100 per cent identical genes looked like) and non-identical twins (who share 50 per cent of the same genes) were used.
The scientists focused on two types of eating habits: food fussiness, which includes aversions to certain textures, smells and tastes; and food neophobia, the refusal to try new foods.
The study found that genetics were to blame for 46 per cent of the kids’ food fussiness and 58 per cent of refusals to try new food. So, we’ll steal a line from Lady Gaga, if we may: they were born this way!
Really, this is a bit of a relief for parents everywhere. Finally, we can stop feeling guilty about what we’re doing or not doing, and whether or not our little one’s refusal to try new foods is all our fault. It’s not! We haven’t turned our kids into fussy eaters, that’s just how they’re made.
“Keeping mealtimes as positive as possible is the way forward,” suggests Andrea Smith, a co-author on the study and PhD student at University College London. So, if your kid sticks his nose up at the carrots in his pasta sauce, so be it. That’s just how he is. And it’s not something you did, so don’t beat yourself up about it.
Besides, you love eating rejected carrots.