Picky Eating –
Every parent has had to deal with food battles at one time or another. Whether it’s trying to encourage your child to taste their broccoli, or trying to find something on the restaurant menu for your picky toddler, most parents have been there. And while seasoned parents may chuckle and try to tell you “it will all work out”, there are some cases where extra help may be in order.
Grandparents and even some healthcare providers may be famous for phrases like “he’ll eat when he’s hungry”, or “she’ll grow out of it”, but it may not always be quite so simple. Some children won’t eat when they’re hungry, or don’t seem to feel hunger like other children do. Some children don’t grow out of it on their own. While these scenarios may not be the norm, they aren’t entirely uncommon either. There are a variety of reasons that a child may suffer from what health professionals refer to as food aversions. For example, babies with uncontrolled reflux might learn to associate eating with pain, or a child with autism may refuse foods based on the texture.
Are you concerned about your child’s picky eating? Here are some signs that your picky eater may need some outside intervention:
Your pediatrician expresses concern over lack of weight gain or weight loss.
Kids are supposed to be growing and gaining weight pretty much without pause in early childhood. Interruptions of this pattern can eventually have long term consequences such as stunting of a child’s growth.
Your child’s reaction to food seems odd or illogical.
This could be a tantrum or it could even be gagging or vomiting. And these reactions can occur just at the sight of a non-preferred food or even from the smell of it. It may be difficult for a child like this to be around food outside the home.
Your child rarely tells you they are hungry or thirsty
Think: a child who would play all day and never ask to eat, and not just on “exciting” or special days, but any and every day. These children do not seem to enjoy eating but rather, want to avoid it.
Your child refuses to eat entire food groups or food textures
Avoidance of an entire food group or texture can be a sign of underdeveloped chewing or swallowing skills or can be related to sensory sensitivities. A speech pathologist (speech pathologists also specialize in swallowing) and an occupational therapist can evaluate these behaviors further.
Your child gradually starts refusing more and more foods.
Food jags (temporary and often sudden refusal of previously accepted foods) are normal. What isn’t normal is when the number of foods a child accepts gradually gets smaller and smaller over time.
The good news is that there are health professionals specifically trained to work with children with food aversions and help move them towards age appropriate eating patterns. At Advent Feeding Clinic, our team of Speech/Swallowing therapists, Occupational therapists, and Registered dietitians work together to provide comprehensive care for all of our feeding clients.
Not sure if your child’s picky eating is cause for concern? Call and ask about our free screenings. Being equipped with information about your child’s nutrition needs along with strategies for mealtime success can give you peace of mind and help to decrease mealtime stress.
Reading this from afar? Teleconferencing is also available in many situations. Call our office to find out more.