Do you have a picky eater at home? As a parent, do you enforce the “try-me-bite” at mealtime? Is your child willing to try new foods but decides they “don’t like” many of the new things you introduce? Do they eat a limited number of different foods, but still will consistently eat something from each food group? Are they (somehow) growing and thriving? If you can answer “yes” to all these questions, congratulations! Your picky eater is completely “normal”! They might drive you nuts, but they will probably expand their food repertoire at their own comfortable pace. There is no need to push or get into a power struggle at mealtime! Yay!
But when is a “picky eater” a problem picky eater?
1. He rarely seems hungry
2. He limits himself to certain textures (only crunchy or only smooth-creamy) or even different brands of the same food are refused (eats chicken nuggets only from a particular restaurant)
3. He fusses and you know he is hungry, but he does not seem to associate his discomfort with needing food.
4. He avoids sitting down for a meal. If you do get him seated, he is very easily distracted. (anything is more interesting than the meal).
5. He will seem to deprive himself if you withhold his “preferred food” in order to get him to eat the food you want him to eat
6. He will gag at the sight of a nonpreferred food or cry and throw a tantrum to avoid eating.
7. He refuses to transition to a cup or feed himself or use utensils at the age appropriate time
8. He does not eat foods kids usually like.
9. Young babies just transitioning to “baby food” turn away from the spoon or avoid swallowing food.
If you are seeing these signs don’t wait to seek help, even if your child is not considered under-weight. If your child is not getting enough nutrition, there can be serious health problems as a result. This is easier to treat earlier than later. Ask your pediatrician for a referral to a feeding therapist. Feeding therapists are not only at children’s hospitals and major medical centers. You do not have to travel far from your home and community to receive expert feeding therapy. We are here to help.