Does Picky Eating Start As a Baby or a Toddler?
Typically, picky eating doesn’t start in babies. They haven’t developed preferences, and are really used to just formulas / milk. However, some textures could be off-putting because of only having liquids. Picky eating starts more as a child grows and experiences new things.
However, it isn’t always just about picky eating, they could just be mimicking a friend or a family member. It could be a preference. It could just be it is new and they need to experience it a few times or in different ways.
What Are Some Foods That Picky Eaters Typically Don’t Like?
There are a few types of food that picky eaters typically don’t like. These include green vegetables, some citrus fruits, and anything with a strong taste or smell. In addition, many picky eaters will refuse to try new foods, which can make it difficult for them to get the nutrients they need.
It’s important to continue adding new foods to your child’s diet, even if they don’t seem interested in trying new things. This is the best way to help them develop healthy eating habits and expand their palate. Some picky eaters will have a hard time trying new foods, and it can take 10-20 tries before a child likes what he or she is eating. But with patience and perseverance, you can help your child overcome their pickiness!
How Long Does the No Phase Last With The Pickiest Eater?
We have all seen the child that eats everything, and the child that only eats french fries. Do we lay too heavy on this being picky eater versus just preferences? Do we sometimes not allow our children to eat adult foods?
From my experience, both of my nieces were somewhat picky eaters in their early childhood. One niece just wanted to eat snacks, one niece would eat anything only if you told her it was chicken. Then our daughter comes along, who does eat everything, and the day she ate my raw oysters instead of her fish tacos was more frustrating than feeding my niece snacks for lunch!
Both of our nieces, now adults, do have a wide pallet of food, and they appreciate the variety we offered them as they were growing up. Of course, they still have their preferences, but they are more open to trying new things. They have also grown up to appreciate and understand how foods make you feel and fuel your body.
5 Techniques on How to Deal With a Picky Eater
There are many strategies to deal with a picky eater. Even at my age, if you gave me the choice of macaroni and cheese versus broccoli, of course I would choose macaroni and cheese. It’s not that I’m picky, I actually really like broccoli! But, it’s my preference for the given choice. We don’t typically give our daughter a choice of what she wants to eat. (We’ll touch more on that later).
Let’s take a look at some strategies to use to identify some deeper issue, other than just being picky and help to understand what’s going on with our kiddos and why some meal times are very difficult for us as parents and for them.
1. Difference in Goals For Different Parents
Some parents may want to encourage their children to be adventurous with food, while others may want to avoid any type of conflict. Still, others may feel that it’s important for their friends and family to see the struggles they’re going through. No matter what your goal is as a parent, there are ways for you to help your child navigate food.
Children can go through picky eating phases, and we can help them learn how to get over this phase by teaching them how to handle new sensations and avoid battles of wills. It’s important not to set a pattern of fussy eating with the goal of avoiding an “I win” battle because this will only make things worse in the long run.
The Role of Parents With Extremely Picky Eaters
One of the most important roles parents play in their child’s life is shaping their food habits for their future. A recent study found that not only do parents’ food preferences influence their children, but also how they introduce new foods to them. The study found that parents who showed disgust or disinterest had children who also tended to refuse new foods.
It is therefore important for parents to make sure their own choices are in line with the foods they want their child to eat and enjoy. This means exposing them to a variety of healthy foods at an early age and not picking at their food themselves. If you haven’t tasted something, your child is less likely to try it–and may even develop a habit of picking at food themselves! So make sure you set a good example and enjoy all kinds of different healthy foods together.
Parents May be Fussy Eaters Too
Many parents can be fussy eaters when it comes to the food they put into their own mouths. This behavior is often picked up by the children who live with them. It’s important for parents not to be too fussy about the food they feed their children, as this may attract unwanted attention from them. I, for instance, am not the biggest fan of raw carrots. I literally need a gallon of ranch to eat one carrot stick. I don’t let my daughter hear my dislike for them when she wants to have a snack together that involves raw carrots. I just eat a few and then say “Mama’s full. That was delicious.”
Food refusal is a common struggle for toddlers and young children. It can be difficult for them to accept new types of food, especially if their parents are particularly choosy eaters. Remember that your child might not always have a choice in whether they want to eat – they might be experiencing sensory issues or have other problems which make feeding difficult.
Kiddos listen and absorb everything you say. We need to be very conscious that we are not saying “I don’t like…” Our kiddos look up to us. We are their role models If mama / dada doesn’t like it, then it must not be good.
2. Introduce Lumpy Foods Early, Including Baby Food
It’s important to introduce “lumpy” foods to toddlers between the ages of 6-9 months, as this can help lessen fussiness later on. A study focused on a group of babies who were not given lumpy foods until they were 10 months or older. The researchers found that those babies were more likely to be fussy eaters when they reached toddlerhood.
We introduced finely ground meats and scrambled eggs into our daughter’s puréed foods by 8 months of age. These lumps were small enough that they did not pose a chocking hazard, yet lumpy enough to provide textures. By the time she was 10 months of age, I was simply mashing her cooked fruits and vegetables, not puréeing them.
Start Small With Portion Sizes
When it comes to introducing new foods to your children, it is best to start small with portion sizes. This will help them become curious about the food and eventually try more. Serving a small portion size of foods that are new to your kids can lead them to be curious. They may not eat it all in the first go around, but they will eventually try more.
A great way to introduce small sizes of new foods is with an infant or toddler feeder. They come in either silicone or net. As they gnaw on the feeder, they are exposed to tiny pieces of food to get used to textures and flavors. Also, when our daughter was still eating puréed foods, we always gave her a nibble of the things from our plate. Yes, even the salsa and the curry! To this day, she still eats spicy foods.
It is also important to find out what the size of your meals should be on a daily basis. You don’t want your child’s stomach growling every hour because you’re not serving enough food at each mealtime! Start small and gradually increase the amount as they get older and their appetite grows. We always make a small portion for her, even at the age of 3 now, but if she wants more she asks for more.
3. Don’t Be Put Off by Food Rejection from Toddlers
Don’t be discouraged if your baby rejects a food – it could be because they are not hungry or just don’t like the texture. It’s also normal for parents to worry about their own eating habits when trying to introduce new foods to their toddler, but you should know that this is common and nothing to be ashamed of.
Remember that other factors such as illness, traveling, or lack of sleep might affect your child’s willingness to try new things, but it is not uncommon for 50% of toddlers to reject food altogether. If your child does turn up their nose at something you’ve offered, don’t give up! Try again with the same meal at a different time, or mix in a new fruit into the daily diet. With a bit of persistence, hopefully your tot will come around and accept a wider range of foods.
With our daughter we noticed a tiny bit of cheese went a long way when introducing trickier foods like broccoli. She still has some rejection with bigger pieces of lettuce, but an extra drizzle of salad dressing, and she eats the bigger pieces right up now. When she was younger I would always mix apple or pear with the green veggies, then slowly wean out the fruit.
Don’t Force Foods
Parents are often eager to help their children develop healthy eating habits. However, it’s important not to force kids to eat if they say they’re not hungry. Forcing them to eat could lead them to connect food with anxiety and frustration, making it more difficult for them as they grow. Remember, our goal is to teach them healthy habits for the future.
If a meal is too difficult to make, or if an occasion is not enjoyable for everyone, your child will want to avoid it in the future. It’s important to be calm when refusing food and thinking about what might have caused the refusal before trying again another time. Bribing with sweets only makes them think those items are better than what you offer – making their refusal more likely in the future.
4. Get Kids Involved in Meal Planning
With a little help from parents, kids can be involved in the planning and preparation of meals. Before she started talking, she would just listen to my husband and I discuss the meal plans. Now that she’s a bit older, she’s included in our meal planning talks and even wants to help out with the planning and prep and the cooking!
She is excited when she sees we’re going to cook the produce she picked out, and she feels included. It’s not a discussion of “Child, what do you want?” It’s a discussion of “We have this meat or that meat, along with this side or this side.” Then as a family we decide on the meal. And yes, the option not immediately chosen usually becomes the next night’s meal.
Make Meals Fun, Not a Struggle
It can be hard to get kids to eat their vegetables, but with a bit of creativity it is possible. Presentation is key when making food – try cutting vegetables into fun shapes with cookie cutters or adding dips like ranch to broccoli or carrots.
Get your kiddos involved in the kitchen. Our daughter was always under foot in the kitchen. By the time she was 2 she was adding the seasonings and herbs to what was cooking. She was picking out her own produce at the Farmer’s Market. She would help us at the grocery store. She was very aware of how the food came into the house, how it was prepared, and how it ended up on the table.
Yes, it takes more time having them help you. I had to learn this with her. I regret not giving my nieces this experience. It was just faster for me to do it myself. But there were meals that our daughter wouldn’t eat just because she felt left out. She wanted to put the food in the pan. She wanted to stir it. She wanted to contribute. I, on the other hand, didn’t want a mess. I just wanted to get it done and get dinner on the table. It wasn’t fun for me, it wasn’t fun for her, and the both of us struggling did not make it fun for my husband.
Once I stepped back and observed one day how much she had learned from watching my husband and I in the kitchen, I was shocked. With just a little guidance, she actually made a scrambled egg. It was a lesson I had to learn. She was having fun, and my husband and I were guiding her along. We did it as a family. Now, most of the time, she does some part of the meal herself.
Cook the Same Meals for all Family Members, and Eat Together at the Table
As your child grows older, cooking the same meals for all family members can be a challenge, but it’s important to set an example and provide your child with habits for the future. The schedule of meals and snacks should be the same for all family members. Yes, some days this is difficult with all the things we get ourselves involved with. Yet, setting that time aside to have 1 meal as a family is imperative to development.
Around 1 year of age, once our daughter was able to eat more solid food, we started feeding her exactly what we were having. Of course some things on her plate we had to cut small, or run a couple pulses in a food processor. Generally, even going out to a restaurant, the portions are so big, that she just eats off of both of our plates.
5. Ways to Provide Help For a Picky Eater
There are a few things parents can do to help discourage their child from being a picky eater. The first is to always be positive and encouraging when offering food. If your child sees that you like a particular food, he or she may be more likely to try it. Secondly, parents should continue to offer the same types of foods, even if their child does not eat them every time. This will help create a sense of familiarity and encourage the child to eventually give it a try. Additionally, feeding your baby a variety of different foods will allow him or her to decide what they want to eat and when.
Don’t force-feed your child if he or she doesn’t want to eat. This could lead to negative associations with food and make the problem worse. Instead, try giving them time alone with the food they’re refusing and see if they’ll take a bite on their own later on.
Finding ways to acknowledge that your kiddo isn’t feeling a type of food is great while also encouraging them to try it different ways. It might not sound good to you, it might not even taste good to you, but if your kiddo eats that broccoli then that’s the goal! At the beginning you might need to add a little more seasoning, dressing, cheese, etc.
Food and Growth
All babies are different and will develop at their own pace. There is no one right answer as to when your child will start to become a picky eater. However, there are some general guidelines that can give you an idea of what to expect.
Babies tend to graze constantly throughout the day, rather than having three set meals like adults do. They also won’t starve themselves–children will eat until they’re full, even if it’s not in one sitting. This means that eating small meals frequently throughout the day makes up for larger portions at night.
It’s important to check your child’s growth and weight charts regularly though, just in case there are any concerns about them not getting enough nutrition. A baby may not want to eat if they are feeling ill or teething, or the appetite changes frequently. As babies grow older, their appetites naturally slow down, and they’ll gradually eat less overall.” Part of their development is they are constantly in motion. They need to fuel that energy!
Establishing Habits to Avoid Eating Problems
Babies learn quickly and by six months old, they have habits established. These habits can be good or bad, and it’s important for parents to be aware of them, so they can help guide their child in the right direction.
If a baby is fussing at mealtimes, it may mean that he or she is not interested in the food that is being offered. A fussy eater is someone who refuses to try new foods at least half of the time – which can make mealtime frustrating for both parents and children.
There are several things that parents can do to help their toddler develop healthy eating habits – start with solid foods early on, introduce a variety of different types of food, let your child feed themselves whenever possible, and avoid pressuring them to eat more or less than they want. It’s also important to remember that up to half of all toddlers have some sort of food issue – so don’t feel bad if your child seems particularly picky!
Time to Deal with Deeper Health Problems
It’s not always easy to tell when a child has deeper issues that need to be addressed. Sometimes the signs are there, but we often choose to ignore them because they’re inconvenient or uncomfortable. However, if you’re seeing some of these behaviors in your child, it’s time to deal with the deeper issues that should be addressed with their pediatrician.
– Refusal to eat certain foods or textures
– Limited diet due to pickiness
– Difficulty chewing and swallowing
– Sensory processing challenges
Should I be Concerned if My Child is a Picky Eater?
No, you don’t need to worry if your child is a picky eater. However, it’s important to be aware of the signs that could indicate a more serious problem. If your child is healthy and energetic, they are probably eating enough. Children graze constantly rather than consuming three meals per day like adults. A child’s growth, weight, and percentile all indicate how healthy they are. The doctor will give you a growth chart to help determine if your child is following or going over a certain percentile. For children up to two years old, the WHO growth charts are recommended. For children ages two to 18 years old, the CDC growth charts are used.
If your child is not growing on a consistent curve or has dropped significantly in weight percentiles, you should see your pediatrician for further testing and assessment of her nutritional intake and history. While most kids outgrow their pickiness by age 10 or 11, it’s still important to talk with them about why it’s important to eat healthy food, so they can develop good habits for life!
As you see it is difficult to determine exactly when does picky eating start. But with these techniques in our pocket, we as parents can guide our children and help them to navigate a wide pallet of foods and set them up for a healthy future.
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