Mom… Dad… Do you dread dinner time?
Are you preparing all kinds of sensible meals composed of healthy, appealing foods? Do most of these offerings end up splattering the high-chair or carpeting the floor? To make matters worse, you take your children’s rejection of your Master Chef Cuisine personally, and you are convinced that this was a sign of parental lapse on your part.
What is wrong? Why are these children such picky eaters?
The daily frustrations of getting your picky eaters to tolerate and eat “normal” foods and a greater variety can be absolutely overwhelming for both the parents and child. It is not unusual, especially in the Toddler years for children to be picky eaters. However, picky eaters can be quite frustrating for parents who are concerned about their children’s eating habits.
In some cases a toddler that is not eating well or refusing to eat can develop nutrient deficiencies and can become under-weight.
Picky Eating Habits are Natural
Q: So what is a picky eater?
A: Picky eaters are typically children who skip meals, eat limited foods, or eat too little.
Children are picky eaters for a few main reasons
- They are afraid to try new foods (neophobia)
- Sensory Processing Disorder
- The toddler has a greater interest in the world around him and loses interest in food
- The growth rate is slower
- They prefer sweet over bitter tastes
- The toddler is in a manipulative stage of development or seeks attention through this behaviour
- Minor illnesses or teething can reduce the appetite
Research suggests that children who are picky eaters consume fewer calories in their diets, are more likely to eat fewer than 2 servings of fruits and vegetables per day, and less fat and protein than non-picky eaters. As a result, they do not receive the recommended level of nutrients required and thus may be at risk for several nutrition-related problems.
Is it a problem? Should I be worried?
These questions will help you find out if your child is a picky eater. If you answer “Yes” to any of these questions, we advise that you discuss it with your Health Care Provider to ensure that the problems are addressed professionally:
- Does your child only eat certain types of food (e.g. fast foods, fried food etc.)?
- Does your child dislike trying new foods?
- Does your child refuse to eat vegetables and/or items from other foods groups?
- Does your child have strong likes and dislikes for certain foods?
- Does your child make meal times very long or makes a fuss over eating?
- Do you use incentives to encourage your child to finish his/her meal?
- In your opinion, does your child get a good balance of food in each meal?