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6 Signs Picky Eating is a Bigger Problem

Published March 28, 2024

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Picky eating is a common phase in childhood development, but sometimes it can indicate a more significant issue. In this blog post, we'll explore 6 signs that picky eating might be a bigger cause for concern in little ones.

What is Picky Eating in Kids?

Picky eating, characterized by selective food preferences and reluctance to try new foods, is a normal part of childhood development. However, when picky eating becomes extreme or persists over time, it may signal underlying issues that require attention.

Signs of Concern in Picky Eaters 

1. Limited Food Variety: If kiddos consistently refuse entire food groups or have an extremely narrow range of accepted foods, it could indicate a more serious problem. This behavior may lead to nutritional deficiencies and hinder proper growth and development.

2. Mealtime Anxiety: Anxiety or stress surrounding mealtimes, such as tantrums, refusal to sit at the table, or meltdowns when presented with unfamiliar foods, may suggest deeper emotional or sensory issues related to food.

3. Difficulty Eating in Social Settings: Kiddos who struggle to eat or display extreme food aversions in social settings, such as at school or parties, may be experiencing heightened anxiety or sensory sensitivities related to food.

4. Weight Loss or Failure to Thrive:Persistent picky eating coupled with weight loss, poor growth, or failure to thrive warrants immediate attention from healthcare professionals. These signs may indicate nutritional deficiencies or underlying medical conditions.

5. Gagging or Vomiting:Extreme reactions like gagging, vomiting, or choking when presented with certain foods may signal sensory issues or aversions that require evaluation by a pediatrician or feeding specialist.

6. Excessive Dependence on Specific Foods:Relying excessively on a few preferred foods while refusing all others can lead to nutritional imbalances and may indicate underlying sensory issues or feeding disorders.

Summary

While picky eating is a common phase during the childhood years, certain signs may indicate a more significant problem that requires attention. Persistent refusal of entire food groups, mealtime anxiety, difficulty eating in social settings, weight loss or failure to thrive, extreme reactions to foods, and excessive dependence on specific foods are red flags that warrant further evaluation by healthcare professionals to ensure the well-being of little ones.

References

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  • Zucker NL, Copeland WE, Franz L, Carpenter K, Keeling L, Angold A, Egger HL. Psychological and psychosocial impairment in preschoolers with selective eating. Pediatrics. 2015;136(3):e582-e590.
  • Dukeshire S, Sherry SB. Infant and child temperament and the Big Five model of personality. Journal of Research in Personality. 2017;68:130-140.
  • Micali N, Chakrabarti S, Fombonne E. The broad autism phenotype: findings from an epidemiological survey. Autism. 2004;8(1):21-37.