Kid a fussy eater? Sit down to a relaxed family meal

If feeding the kids has become a daily battle of wills, consider sitting down at the dinner table and sharing a family meal.

According to a new study out of the UK that studied the eating habits of 75 families, friendly interaction between mother and child was shown to help young children become more open to trying new foods.

Instead of coercive strategies like pressure and physical prompting, friendly, laid-back dining environments were shown to help develop less food-fussy children, the study said.

The findings will be presented at the Developmental Psychology Section Annual Conference in Newcastle this week, where researchers will provide more details.

The goal of the study was to understand the factors linked with fussy eating habits among children - a common complaint during pediatric visits that can also lead to unhealthy diets that persist into adulthood.

"The dietary habits and eating behaviors of young children are a top priority amongst governing bodies, healthcare professionals and parents alike," said lead author Faye Powell in a statement. "..."In order to prevent feeding problems and improve child diet, a thorough understanding is needed of the early life risk factors and how to modify them.."

The children will also be re-visited next year in a follow-up study.

In the meantime, for exhausted moms everywhere, Missy Chase Lapine's The Sneaky Chef: Simple Strategies for Hiding Healthy Foods in Kids' Favorite Meals uses a little bit of culinary trickery to get kids to get their vegetables.

Mother of three and wife of comedian Jerry Seinfeld, Jessica Seinfeld's  Deceptively Delicious: Simple Secrets to Get Your Kids Eating Good Food is another popular family cookbook.

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