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Fussy Eaters vs. Problem Feeders

Posted by Mandy Sacher on November 07, 2014

Posted by Mandy Sacher on November 07, 2014

Mealtimes shouldn’t be a battleground, but all too often, parents find themselves spending countless hours encouraging their children to try new foods. Meals which have been lovingly prepared, often end up being thrown away.


Fussy eating, for many well-meaning parents, is an area of concern and stress. The truth is that around 50% of toddlers can be classified as fussy eaters, and 8 out of 10 parents wish that their child’s diet included more nutritious and varied options. For most children however, ‘fussy eating’ is a stage they will grow out of as they start to become more adventurous. What we choose to feed our little ones, and the strategies we implement to deal with their fussiness is the main factor in how their eating habits will develop.


There is a small percentage of children, however, who will require intervention as a result of physiological or psychological reasons for their ongoing food refusal, such as oral motor delays, sensory issues, gastrointestinal disturbances or anxiety-food related disorders. These children may fall into the category of what is called ‘problem feeders’, and the sooner their issues are identified and treated, the more willing they will be to try new foods.


 


Signs your child is a Fussy Eater:

  • There is an obvious lack of variety in their diet, they request the same foods each day
  • Your child will eat no more than approx. 30 different types of food (e.g. carrot, cucumber, bread, cheese, and milk – each item counts as 1)
  • Your child will eat the same sandwich for months, then go off it and refuse it, however a few weeks later he/she will happily eat it again
  • Can tolerate new foods on their plate, touch new foods, may even (after lots of encouragement) taste a new food even if it’s not swallowed
  • Eat foods from all the different food texture groups (e.g. crunchy, soft, hard)
  • During mealtimes, they’re happy to sit with family as long as they’re eating a food/meal they like – which will most likely be different to rest of the family’s meal, but may include some components of family meal (e.g. will eat corn or a meatball with no sauce)
  • With lots of repetition and encouragement from parents, they may slowly add new foods to their limited diet.

 


Signs of Problem Feeders:

  • Your child eats less than 20 different types of foods
  • Will fixate on a particular food for a long time, then tire of it and refuse to eat it – even months later
  • Will have a meltdown if a new food is placed on their plate; some children will refuse to sit at the table if certain foods are present, even if it’s on another family member’s plate
  • No matter how much encouragement, the child will refuse to taste a new food
  • Certain textures are completely omitted from the diet
  • The majority of the time, the child eats different meals to the family

 


 


For more advice on Fussy Eating check out The Wholesome Child book, which offers advice strategies and plenty of recipes specifically designed for Fussy Eaters.


 

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