Picky Eating

It’s not about the vegetables

By February 23, 2020 March 3rd, 2020 No Comments
Mum tries to convince picky eater to try food

You have a picky eater and it is causing stress for your whole family.

Parents who come into YukToYum often tell our Speech Pathologists and Occupational Therapists that what really worries them is their child’s nutritional intake. They worry that their child aren’t getting enough calories. They are concerned that they aren’t getting the minimum daily amounts of vitamins and minerals.

When is comes to helping your picky eater become more adventurous, in the beginning we need to set aside concerns about nutritional intake. Unless your child has significant medical issues, we need to  address the learned behaviours that may have caused picky eating.

What are learned behaviours for picky eaters?

These are the things that your child has learned when they try new foods. Some of the behaviours are child behaviours, and some of them are parent behaviours.

Let’s look at what our Speech Pathologists and Occupational Therapists in our Bondi Junction clinic have to say about learned behaviours:

The child picky eating behaviours could include:

  • Choking on a baked potato and refusing to eat baked potatoes again.
  • Vomiting after they had drank a strawberry smoothie and refusing to eat any smoothies in future.
  • Suffering from gastroesophageal reflux and eating some food hurts
  • They may have a tongue tie and can’t move some foods efficiently around their mouths
  • They tried broccoli and didn’t like the taste of so they refused to eat broccoli in future.

The parent picky eating behaviours include:

  • Offering other options when their child refuses to eat a meal
  • Giving the child the foods they like and not exposing them to new foods
  • Putting pressure on their child to eat a meal
  • Having a mealtime routine that is not structured
  • Allowing a lot of snacking between meals so the child isn’t hungry at mealtime

The learned behaviours around mealtimes can be complex. That is why our Speech Pathologists and Occupational Therapists start with a picky eater mealtime ‘reset’ program. When you ‘reset’ the mealtime,  many children start to expand their food choices naturally. The family stress stress around meals and food starts to decrease. Other children begin to relax more around mealtimes and food, but require more specific intervention strategies to begin to try new foods. Decreasing everyone’s stress around eating is key to moving forward.

More picky eating tips

To get you started, call YukToYum and speak to one of our Speech Pathologists or  Occupational Therapists. An assessment allows our feeding therapists to understand any physiological concerns, motor difficulties, or learned behaviours that are specific to your child. The parent training session gives parents all the training and knowledge to start the ‘reset’ program at home. Ongoing individual and group sessions help your child learn to try new foods. Don’t worry if you live a long way from Bondi Junction, or from Sydney, we do a lot of feeding sessions by Skype. Parents can even join our picky eater mealtime ‘reset’ group sessions via Zoom. We can be contacted on (02) 80657837 or here.