Do any of these statements remind you or your child?
“Morgan won’t eat anything green because of the color”
“Strawberries used to be Morgan’s favorite food; now she refuses them.”
“Morgan will only eat chicken nuggets!”
“He gags at the sight of oatmeal.”
If your child only eats certain types of food or refuses foods based on colors, textures, or brands, he/she may be a picky eater, and mealtime may be a sore topic in your household. While some parents worry about what their children eat or how much they consume, no need to worry too much because you are not alone. To help increase the variety and nutrition, you can make sure your child is exposed to different foods and textures from each food group. It’s okay if they don’t like chewy foods but consumes all other textures during their picky stage; eventually, they should add that texture to their diet at some point. Picky eating is a common behavior for many children from the age of 2 to 5 years. However, if these behaviors persist beyond this age or the picky eating results in nutritional compromise and weight loss, your child could be at risk for a true feeding disorder.
If you find that your child does not consume a variety of foods and textures please speak with your child’s pediatrician first to discuss your concerns about picky eating. If you believe your child’s picky eating is more severe than what is considered typical for his/her age, please talk to your child’s pediatrician for a possible feeding referral with a Speech-Language Pathologist or Occupational Therapist.
How to cope with picky eating: It’s okay your child is picky eater, as long as it’s temporary.
Try some of the following tips to help your child’s picky eating behaviors in a positive way:
- Let your kids pick fruits and vegetables at the grocery store.
- Let your kids help you prepare the meals. Let them add ingredients or stir the food.
- Offer choices, such as, “do you want green beans or broccoli for dinner?”
- During mealtime, have fun family conversations without the TV on for distractions.
- Offer the same foods for the whole family. Stick to mealtime routines.
- Cut food into fun shapes but keep it simple.
- Plate small portions on a child’s plate. Given them a small taste at first. You can always give them more if they like it!
- Offer only one new food at a time up to 10 times. Always serve something they like with new food. Children may need to try a new food 10 or more times before they accept it.
- Offer the new foods first! Your child is most hungry at the start of a meal.
- Be a Good Role Model at dinner time.
Written by: Shannon McKinnie, MS, CCC-SLP