Every parent's security blanket & instruction manual
Q: My child is an extremely picky eater. He only eats two or three foods and it drives me crazy! I've tried everything to get him to try new foods, but nothing works. Help!
A: It is important to have a broad perspective on your child's food choices. For parents of selective eaters, a phrase which puts a positive spin on picky eaters, there is sometimes anxiety that a child will never expand their food choices. Do not give up hope of your child's becoming a food adventurer. As long as your pediatrician says that your child is healthy, you need to believe that your child's food choices will expand as your child grows and develops. For many children, at about seven or eight years of age there can be an expansion of food choices as the neurological leap that occurs at that age broadens your child's world in general and may help your child become more of a risk-taker when it comes to food.
Sometimes it helps to characterize your Child the Picky Eater as Your Child the Selective Eater. If your child has a limited eating repertoire, that can be challenging, but it can also make meal preparation easier.
In addition, if your child is having a particularly difficult time expanding their food repertoire, it may be helpful to examine their diet through a sensory perspective. Does your child prefer salty and crunchy foods, which are alerting, or creamy foods, which are calming? Does your child prefer warm foods, room-temperature foods or cool foods? Does your child prefer bland foods or spicy foods? Are certain foods more self-soothing than others for your child? If your child is not a risk-taker with foods, exploring possible sensory sensitivities may be helpful.
If you should have continued concerns about your child's eating, in addition to consulting your pediatrician, you should consult a nutritionist.
See an expanded answer to this question in the article Food and Your Child: Healthy Attitudes and Harmonious Meals.
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