What is picky eating?
Picky eating shows up as a child being hesitant to try new foods or consistently avoiding certain types of food. It is a common behavior in young children and is often a normal part of their development. While it can be frustrating for parents, it is important to remember that picky eating is usually a temporary phase that children eventually outgrow.
How do I know if it is just picky eating or if there is a bigger problem?
If your child’s picky eating is causing nutritional deficiencies or if it is causing stress for your family, it may be a bigger problem. It is possible that your child has sensory processing issues and as a result, they may be more sensitive to the texture, taste, or smell of certain foods. Another significant marker could include mealtimes that include behavior challenges that disrupt mealtime more often than not.
What can be causing my child to be so picky?
There are many reasons why a child may be picky about food. One common reason is that they are simply exploring their independence and asserting their preferences. Additionally, some children may have a lower appetite or be more sensitive to certain tastes or textures. Sometimes, picky eating can be a result of a sensory processing disorder, a medical condition, or a reaction to medication. If you suspect that there may be an underlying issue, it is best to speak with your child’s pediatrician or occupational therapist.
Who can help determine if there is a bigger problem?
If you suspect that your child’s picky eating is related to an underlying medical condition, their pediatrician may refer you to a specialist such as an occupational therapist, behavioral therapist, registered dietitian, or a pediatric gastroenterologist. These specialists can provide additional support and guidance to ensure that your child is getting the nutrients they need.
What kinds of things can I do at home to encourage my child to eat more healthy options?
There are several strategies you can try at home to encourage your child to eat more healthy foods:
- Be patient and persistent. Children may need to be exposed to a new food many times before they are willing to try it.
- Offer a variety of foods. Children are more likely to try new foods if they are exposed to them regularly.
- Make healthy foods fun. Use cookie cutters to create fun shapes out of fruits and vegetables or let your child help you prepare meals.
- Encourage your child to help with meal planning and preparation. This can help them feel more invested in the process and may make them more willing to try new foods.
- Set a good example. Children are more likely to try new foods if they see their parents eating them.
Picky eating is a common behavior in young children, but it can be frustrating for parents who want to ensure their child is getting a healthy and balanced diet. While picky eating is usually a temporary phase, it is important to speak with your child’s pediatrician if you have concerns. By offering a variety of healthy foods and being patient and persistent, you can encourage your child to try new foods and develop healthy eating habits.
If you would like to visit with any of our highly trained occupational therapists to determine causes and solutions for picky eating, we are well-equipped in all locations to help you out! Our clinics are located in Bismarck, Minot, Beulah, and Grand Forks.