It’s not your parenting. Your toddler’s fussy eating habits are a result of genetic influences, a study has found. The study published Friday in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry was led by researchers at the University College London.

Researchers studied the influence of genes and environmental factors on children’s food preferences. Food fussiness, they said, is the tendency to be very selective about the textures, tastes and smell of the food a toddler is willing to consume. This often viewed as a result of inadequate parenting.

Food neophobia, on the other hand, is when children refuse to try new food. This is a normal phenomenon that occurs at the development stage and is not viewed as a result of parenting styles.

Researchers analyzed data from the Gemini study, which is the largest twin cohort in the world. They focused on eating behaviors in early life, looking at data from 1,921 families with 16-month-old twins. Researchers found that environment and parenting affected food fussiness more than food neophobia but environmental factors weren’t as important as the child’s genetic influences.

“Establishing a substantial genetic influence on both of these traits might be quite a relief to parents as they often feel judged or feel guilty for their children’s fussy eating. Understanding that these traits are largely innate might help to deflect this blame,” the study’s co-author Andrea Smith said in a statement.

But this does not mean food fussiness in toddlers can’t be modified.

However, the importance of genes does not imply that children's fussy eating behavior cannot be changed.

“Genes are not our destiny. We know of many traits with a strong genetic basis that can nevertheless be changed, such as weight,” senior lead researcher Clare Llewellyn said. “It would be useful for future research to identify the important environmental shapers of food fussiness and neophobia in young children so that they might be targeted to reduce these behaviors.”

In a related study, the same research team collaborated with Queensland University of Technology in Australia and found that mothers of twins who showed a great difference in their levels of food fussiness responded to the challenge by feeding the two children differently.

Mothers would pressure their children to eat food the kids disliked and would reward the children later using the kids’ favorite foods. The study was published in July in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity and questions the notion that food fussiness is a result of parenting style.

“Parents often comment on how different their children are, and so it makes sense that they vary their parenting strategies to suit each individual child. Having a child who refuses to eat most foods can be very distressing for a parent,” co-author of the study Holly Harris said. “A logical next-step is to work with parents to address their concerns, and develop strategies to best respond to a child’s fussy eating to encourage future food acceptance.”