When should I get help for my picky eater?

Picky eating is a normal stage in development.  At the preschool age, kids have an inconsistent interest in eating and may eat a food one day but vehemently refuse it the next.   It definitely doesn’t seem like it, but these unpredictable eaters will typically meet their energy requirements over the course of the day.  Literature suggests that about 25 – 35% of parents would describe their child as a picky eater at the preschool age.  We also know that the rate of gain between 2 – 5 years of age slows!

If you are worried about your child’s eating:

  • Check in with your doctor about your child’s rate of growth. It may be beneficial to have reassurance that growth is on track.  A natural reaction to thinking your child is underweight is increasing the pressure to eat greater volumes!  Unfortunately, it is very likely this strategy will only cause your child to refuse more and start a vicious cycle.
  • Consider doing a log and track your child’s intake over the course of the week.  You may notice trends and can tweak scheduling or how foods are offered.
  • Consider getting connected with a community dietician.

Get to a physician ASAP if your child:

  • has pain associated with eating
  • vomits during or close to a mealtime
  • is not gaining weight at all, or is loosing weight
  • consistently gags, chokes or coughs during meals

You may want to talk to your doctor about accessing a feeding team or feeding therapy if your child:

  • Consistently eats a different meal than the family
  • Has less than ~20 foods she will eat
  • Cries or melts down when presented with a new food is presented


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