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Why are Children Such Picky Eaters (and What to Do)

picky eater

Children being picky eaters is not ‘news’. Whether it’s your child or not, most of us kinda anticipates that kids can be choosy in what they eat for no reason. And it is especially difficult for parents particularly when their child is already around the age of 1 to 3. Since they can’t speak eloquently yet, it’s hard to learn the reason why they refuse to eat what you’ve laid out on their plates.


Being a picky eater can be caused by a lot of factors. There are instances when the child is just not hungry (biological) during the time the food was served. Children who are allowed to take snacks and drinks in between traditional mealtimes can become ‘picky eaters’ since they are already full when the big meal is served. There are children who just don’t like to eat certain food items because they don’t like how it tastes. This is something they will outgrow in the future.

Sometimes, it can be psychological. There are children who refuse to try new things, something which you have to consult with your pediatrician. There are also cases of sensory aversion in children, which make them repulsive to certain food items. According to researchers, there are three types of picky eating:

1.) Normal picky eating wherein the child refuses to eat at least once a month any food type or certain types of food. With this type of picky eating, parents do not need to worry as oftentimes, because there is no sign of growth deficiency in children with this eating personality.

2.) Selective eating is where the child tends to eat a narrow range of food for at least two years. They are also unwilling to try new food items and may be found underweight. No signs of abnormal cognitions or morbid preoccupations related to shape and weight.

3.) Sensory Food Aversion is where the child refuses to eat specific food with specific tastes, smells, and/or appearances. Children with sensory food aversion are often found with specific nutritional deficiency, oral motor delay, or both.

What can I do about it?

Ensuring that your kids get proper nutrition is important especially during developmental years. Here are some of the tips and tricks you can do to alter your child’s eating habits.

  • Keep offering a wide variety of healthy foods. You really have to be very creative in preparing food especially when it involves veggies.
  • Involve the child in meal preparation as often as possible. Knowing how it is made and that they took part in cooking it can make them feel more excited to experience the finished product.
  • Don't force feed, or coerce. If your child doesn’t want to eat, don’t force them. Perhaps, they’re not hungry.
  • Keep addictive junk foods for special treats and sometimes snacks, not as a regular part of diet.
  • Consult your doctor if you are worried they are not getting proper nutrition. You will notice serious signs like dropping of weight in your children.