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When is picky eating not just picky eating?

How many times have you heard people saying that children who are picky eaters are simply “going through a phase”? “They’ll grow out of it. It’s nothing to worry about.” As a parent, have you found yourself questioning whether it is just a phase or if it’s actually something to be concerned about? How do you know the difference?

How to know if it’s more than simply fussy eating

Generally, it is a normal stage in child development to go through a period of picky eating, especially when it comes to eating their greens. Where this becomes something to take more seriously is if your child consistently exhibits the following:

1) Extreme physical reactions and behaviors around food

This includes gagging, vomiting, having big temper tantrums, or avoiding or hiding food so they don’t have to eat it.

2) Experiencing a food jag

This is when a child only eats a limited number of foods but suddenly won’t eat one of them anymore. It might be that they only ate 6 foods to begin with so if this limited range gets reduced to only 4 or 5 foods, this makes meeting the basic nutrition requirements exceptionally challenging.

3) Restricting themselves to only eating white or gray foods

Solely eating pale foods is not going to nourish a child sufficiently. They need to be eating the rainbow of foods with a variety of fruit and vegetables.

For some children, the color and consistency of foods can be a trigger for them not wanting to even attempt eating something. If your child has any of these food behaviors, our feeding therapy service will give them the support and tools they need to address and overcome these challenges.

Difficulty eating can begin as soon as solid food is introduced for the first time. Some babies struggle in transitioning from breastfeeding to eating solids. One reason for this is that they might have a tongue tie or sensory aversions to some textures. We adopt a sensory motor approach where we look at how their body is processing all of the information that comes with eating. With a tongue tie, this can cause a behavioral reaction because the baby becomes scared of choking or gagging, leading to them refusing to eat. We can help you and your baby by identifying the cause of their refusal to eat, then applying a range of techniques to be able to eat without distress. If you need additional services to support your child, such as medical assistance to treat a physical issue hindering eating, we partner with trusted professionals and can recommend the best way forward.

If you’re worried about your child’s eating habits and want to know if food therapy is the right choice for your family, please schedule an appointment with one of our therapists, by calling 503-266-1030 or emailing

Alternatively, you can book a free 15-minute consultation by clicking here.


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