“No, no and no”- do you often hear that from your kids whenever you serve them food? This is a common scenario in many households. Or, you may see your kids only demand pizza, chips or only specific foods that hardly fulfill the protein and nutrition they need as per their age. This is called picky eating.
Picky eating can be a serious problem when kids are undernourished or they eat so little that it severely limits their lives. When children have picky eating habits, they may not always have all the necessary nutrients they need each day. This can potentially result in deficiencies of essential minerals like iron, calcium, zinc, and vitamins. And, these deficiencies can have a negative impact on their health and well-being as they grow older, potentially leading to other illnesses and complications.
It’s important for parents to address these concerns to ensure children’s overall health and promote their well-being in a gentle and caring manner.
There are some therapeutic clinics that offer feeding therapy for children with picky eating habits. Before you approach a clinic, as a parent, you need to detect picky eating patterns. Below are some common picky eating patterns.
Children are selective about the shape of the foods. Yes, as a parent you have not noticed it yet. You need to check whether your kid prefers round foods or foods that have clean edges. Does your kid only pick one shape of chicken nuggets? Or, do you see your little one refuse food simply because it is broken or cut in half? If the answer is yes, then you need to encourage your child to use a cookie cutter or simply cut the preferred food. You can put back the food like a puzzle to help relieve the anxiety. or, you can introduce another food in the preferred shape to help your kid easily have them.
The sense of smell plays a vital role in our perception of food. For picky eaters, certain smells can trigger aversions. You may see your kid reject food because of the strong smell. If your child is sensitive to smells, it’s essential to understand their preferences and make strategies to overcome this challenge.
One effective approach is gradual exposure to new smells. For instance, you can begin with aromatic herbs or spices, such as basil or cinnamon, and gradually progress to stronger scents. Encourage your child to take deep breaths and you can describe the smells. This may create a positive association with new scents.
And, one thing you can do is to make mealtimes more pleasant by minimizing strong odors in the environment.
Color is also a very important pattern among picky eaters. Do you see your kid prefers a specific food color? Or, do they refuse a certain food because of its color? Does your kid refuse to have food that has mixed colors? Or, do you find your kid to pick certain colored food among many? If yes, then you need to serve a preferred food in several colors for color acceptance. If you introduce new color food, try to offer the specific food they like to enjoy. This won’t develop a negative association with colors. Another thing you can do is when offering any fruit or snack of the preferred color, you can also place vegetables of the same colour.
Flavor preferences often influence the eating habits of picky eaters. Some children have a strong aversion to certain flavors while gravitating toward others. It’s important to detect and respect your child’s flavor preferences while encouraging them to explore new flavors.
In case your child tends to avoid certain flavors, you can introduce similar flavors in a different context. For example, if your child dislikes the taste of raw carrots, you can try steaming or roasting them to bring out a different flavor. You can also incorporate flavors they enjoy into new dishes or pair them with unfamiliar foods to help bridge the gap.
When it comes to picky eaters, texture plays a significant role in their food choices. Some children have specific preferences when it comes to the texture of foods. Do you see your child favor foods that are smooth and creamy? Or, do they avoid those foods that are crunchy or have a chewy texture? You can offer a variety of foods with different textures alongside their preferred choices. For example, if your child enjoys creamy foods, you can introduce foods with a softer texture, like mashed potatoes or yogurt. Encourage your kid to explore and experiment with different textures. Reassuring them that it’s okay to have preferences while gently introducing new textures over time.
We believe reading this article has helped you understand the common picky eating patterns. Now this time to detect what specific patterns your child has that make them picky eaters.
You can consult our feeding specialists for babies and growing children to understand the condition of your child better. Our one-of-a-kind pediatric feeding therapy has helped many children to overcome their problems with food.
Don’t wait! Book a call with one of our feeding therapists today!