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Three reasons why children are picky eaters

So… you have a picky eater. It causes stress for the whole family. You’re worried about your child’s nutritional intake. You’ve tried to get them to try new foods. Then you explained why they have to eat more foods. Maybe you even begged – but you keep hitting a brick wall.

We see many picky eaters in our Bondi Junction clinic. Most of the children in our Sydney clinic are picky eaters. We understand the stress that families go through when children want to eat the same, limited range of foods.

Picky eating behaviours starts at a fairly young age. It is the toddler years when  picky behaviours usually begin. This is especially frustrating for parents because some babies started off as very adventurous eaters but then they began to dig their heels in.

Children become picky eaters for three main reasons. This concept of simplifying the reasons behind picky eating was introduced to us many years ago by  Melanie Potock, a Speech Pathologist and paediatric feeding therapist , and Dr Nimali Fernando who is a paediatrician.

A physiological issue

This can include things such as gastroesophageal reflux. Other children may have very strong reactions to the smell of some foods and refuse to eat them. These are physiological reasons.

A motor issue

It can include things such as poor tongue control. The child struggles to move the food around their mouth. It could include a delay in gross and fine motor skills. Then the child has difficulty sitting up or bringing food to their mouths. These are motor reasons that can play a role in picky eating.

A learned behaviour

This is about the behaviour of the children. Yes, it also includes the behaviour of the parents. If your child choked on a potato or vomited after a strawberry milkshake, they may reject these foods. If you keep offering different options then your child has learned that they can be picky. These are learned behaviours for picky eating.

All of these things can play a role in your child becoming a picky eater.

Picky eating tips

Here are some tips to think about for your picky eater

If you are concerned about your child’s picky eating then give us a call at our Bondi Junction Clinic. We can get you started on a  ‘picky eater mealtime reset’ so your child gets back on track with their eating. The ‘picky eater mealtime reset’ is also run every month as a group session for parents. Don’t worry if you live a long way from Bondi Junction, or from Sydney, we do a lot of feeding sessions by Skype. Parents can even join our  ‘picky eater mealtime reset’ group sessions via Zoom. We can be contacted on (02) 80657837 or email us.

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