A toddler’s food preferences can be very unpredictable. Identify picky eaters vs problem feeders through these telltale signs.

What is a picky eater?

  • Eats at least one food from most texture groups e.g crunchy, chewy, mushy, but may not like a variety of food in each group
  • Can manage new food on their plate and will try a new food with encouragement
  • If a child gets tired of a particular food, it can eventually be reintroduced

What is a problem feeder?

  • Eats less than 20 foods
  • Progressively phases out foods until their diet becomes extremely limited
  • Gags or vomits when eating certain foods
  • Refuses particular food textures or colors
  • Can’t tolerate being around people eating foods they don’t like

What can I do about picky eating? 

  • Limit snacks such as candy or chips and try serving meals at a consistent time each day. Picky eating can occur if a child fills up on snacks and is not hungry by mealtime.
  • Serve new foods alongside familiar foods your child already likes. Let them explore their food through touch, smell, or trying it in small bites.
  • Do not bribe or force your child to try a new food. Simply continue serving small portions of it along with familiar foods, and your child may eventually come around and try it.

What can I do about problem feeding? 

If you suspect that your child has feeding difficulties beyond picky eating, keep a food journal to track their eating behavior, and bring your observations to the next visit with your child’s healthcare provider. You may be referred to an occupational therapist or a speech therapist that can help your child discover new and healthy foods and improve their overall nutrition.

Check out all of your child’s feeding milestones here!