When Does Picky Eating Become a Problem?

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I’ve been preparing for a feeding presentation I’ve given for the past few years to early childhood professionals in Utah. My good friend, Melissa Willes, who is also an awesome feeding and speech therapist, presents with me. We will be at the Utah Early Childhood Education Conference this Saturday, March 5, 2016! I wanted to share some thoughts from our presentation that may be helpful. Many parents don’t realize that help is available for children with feeding difficulties.

VIDEO: See Tera talk about when to be concerned about a picky eater with FOX 13 The Place here.

Feeding your children is a never-ending task. Believe me, I understand as a mother of 3 children! I’m not a great cook, so mealtimes are stressful for me with just my typical eaters. In my many years of feeding therapy, of all the different kinds of treatment, I think feeding difficulties create the most stress for parents. You can’t ever forget it or set it aside. If your child isn’t eating, it is an all-consuming stress. First, you must plan what you’re going to give your child to eat. Then, you must prepare it (if you remembered to buy it all at the grocery store beforehand). Now, create the right environment and provide the right encouragement so your child will eat without all-out battles! You may end up arguing with your spouse about the best way to feed your child. Finally, you are left to clean up the mess… and the cycle starts over again… And this happens several times a day! Oh, and don’t forget the times your own mom or a friend stops by and tells you how she would do it to make sure your child eats!

It is common for children to go through picky eating stages and have days where they don’t eat as much as you think is enough. But, when should you be worried and stop waiting for her to outgrow it? Melissa and I have created this list with inspiration from Kay Toomey, PhD, about when you should seek professional intervention for your child’s feeding difficulties. Talk with your child’s doctor about seeking out help. The earlier feeding issues are addressed, the better the outcomes!

I’ve also recently found a great new resource on the Feeding Matters website. They have an age-based feeding questionnaire that you can fill out for your child. They offer suggestions and also talk about age-appropriate feeding behaviors based upon the results.

If you are interested in individual feeding therapy in your home in the Weber, Davis and Morgan County area in Utah, I’d love to help!

When Does Picky Eating Become a Problem?

  • Ongoing coughing, choking or gagging while eating or drinking
  • Throwing up frequently
  • Consistent crying, arching or signs of pain or discomfort while eating
  • Difficulty breathing while eating
  • Falling off his growth curve
  • Hasn’t started eating baby food purees by 10 months old
  • Not accepting table foods by 12 months old
  • Not using a cup by 16 months old
  • Hasn’t transitioned to table foods from baby food purees by 16 months old
  • When older than 12 months old, eats 20 or less total different foods
  • “Burns out” on favorite foods and doesn’t pick up new ones to replace the dropped foods
  • Refuses entire food groups or food textures
  • Can’t tolerate new food on her plate
  • Doesn’t tolerate small changes to his favorite foods
  • Almost always refuses to eat the same food the family is eating
  • Mealtimes are battles: stressful and miserable for everyone, including caregiver and child
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