Picky eating can be worrisome for many parents. While some children enjoy eating, others don’t eat as well as you would like them to. This can lead to mealtime battles and family conflicts resulting in frustration for both parents and kids.
Below we tackle some common questions about picky eating. Here’s a quick summary of questions:
Common Questions from Parents About Their Picky Eaters
Why are some kids pickier eaters than others?
Children, just like adults, have their own individual food preferences. Some kids have naturally heightened senses so the smell, texture and taste of certain foods can be overwhelming and even repulsive to them.
Alternatively, a child might have had a bad experience with a certain food making them anxious and unwilling to try out new ones. Remember children need to see new foods several times before they eat them so patience is called for here.
In some cases, picky eating could be the result of food sensitivity, allergies or other medical issues that affect your child’s eating.
Is picky eating a harmless phase or should I be more concerned?
Picky eating is pretty common among children between 2-6 years. Once they reach two, children gain a sense of autonomy and begin to express their preferences, including their refusal of certain foods.
While this is a passing phase that most kids eventually outgrow, a study from Duke Medicine shows that moderate to severe picky eating can coincide with serious childhood issues like anxiety and depression. If the latter is the case, your child may require medical intervention.
Are nutritional deficiencies a concern with picky eating?
Yes, they are; although, this depends on the kind of foods your child avoids. For instance, avoiding greens (which are rich in fiber) can lead to constipation.
Children who regularly refuse to eat a range of foods over time might have low levels of vitamin D, iron and selenium in their bodies as well as other macro and micro nutrient deficiencies.
Great books about parenting with picky eaters
How can I get my child to try new foods?
It is easier to get children to try new foods if they see you enjoying them. Other ways to get them excited about food include:
- Presenting food in creative ways such as cutting it into fun shapes before serving.
- Slowly introducing new foods. Start by serving your child small amounts and aim to introduce new foods every week or so to avoid overwhelming them.
- Involving your children in meal preparation as they are more likely to eat it afterwards.
- Be sure to avoid force-feeding your child as this can make them develop trauma around food.
My child is a severely picky eater. What can I do about it?
Consult your pediatrician if your child is highly selective about the kinds of foods they eat, especially if this has started interfering with their health and family life. This will rule out any underlying medical conditions and the doctor can also assess their nutritional status.
Books to help your picky eater(s) understand
With a great deal of patience from parents, even the pickiest eaters can grow up healthy.