Is Your Child a Picky Eater?
Picky eating in children can be caused by a variety of things, including mental health disorders such as anxiety, developmental and behavioral disorders, sensory sensitivities, having bad experiences with food, and feeding difficulty. Picky eating may brushed off as a non-issue, but it can put children at risk for nutritional deficiencies.
Many children who are picky eaters will only eat a few foods, and others might insist on eating their preferred foods at almost every meal.
Helping a child overcome picky eating is a family effort that requires patience, but overall is a worthwhile process that in the end can improve your child’s nutritional health.
4 Common Types Of Picky Eaters
The ‘copycat’ picky eater
If your child sees you eating unhealthy snacks, sweets like chocolate, and convenience foods, they will learn by example and copy. Ensuring you cook a freshly prepared meal and sit down as a family is a great start, at least for dinner.
The ‘independent’ picky eater
Even if you have made a promising start and your little one seems to be enjoying a variety of fruit, salad, seeds, and vegetables, things can quickly change. As children grow in independence, they may quickly discover that one area they have control over is what they put in their mouths.
The ‘spitting’ picky eater
For some picky-eating toddlers, spitting out food is a form of rebellion for not eating their food. If a taste or texture is unexpected or they didn’t like, this can be a prime candidate for the ejector seat.
The ‘boring’ or ‘disgusting’ picky eater
Two of the most common kinds of picky eater are “boring” or “yucky” toddlers. Any food they do not recognize gets labeled accordingly as an easy way of avoiding trying anything new.
Tips to manage picky eating at mealtimes:
Show them eating is a pleasure.
Speak positively about what you’re eating and model the enjoyment of trying healthy foods – not just because they are good for you, but because they taste good!
Avoid grazing or drinking juice throughout the day.
Similar to adults, children won’t eat at mealtime if they aren’t hungry. By keeping to a regular snack and meal schedule you avoid snacking too close to a meal.
Don’t give up on a new food!
Try over and over again. Research says it takes eight to 15 times to introduce a new food before your child will accept it. Yet parents typically offer a food three to five times before deciding their child is never going to like it.
Do establish mealtime routines.
Try to eat your dinner around the same time every night; keep distractions like phones and TV out of mealtime; talk about pleasant topics so kids associate positive feelings with mealtime.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Severe picky eaters may need extra help from a professional to move beyond their limited eating choice. Dr. Carla can help parents faced with this issue learn to use a method that rewards children for trying different foods and adding new options to their diet.