Is Your Child a Problem Eater? Here Are 5 Questions to Help You Know

Enrichment Therapies

April 9, 2024

toddler standing at kitchen island and eating.

By: Josie Denning, M.A., CF-SLP

Are you worried about your child’s eating habits? Is your child just picky, or is there a bigger issue? Feeding therapy focuses on the child eating a more diverse diet with different textures, tastes, and temperatures. Here are five questions from our professional staff that will help you determine if your child is a problem eater.

1. How Many Foods Will Your Child Eat?

If your child has less than 20 foods and a restricted range and variety of foods, they may be considered a problem eater. Typical picky eaters eat at least 30 different foods. 

2. Did They Eat the Same Food Over and Over and Then Suddenly Stop? 

Normally, children can eat that food again following a short break (1-2 weeks). Problem eaters rarely accept the food again, which can lead to a lower number of foods in their diet. 

3. What Does Your Child Do When New Food Is On Their Plate? 

While typical difficult eaters may tolerate touch or even taste new foods hesitantly, problem eaters may scream, cry, or “meltdown” when introduced to anything new

4. Does Your Child Have at Least One Food In All Nutrition Categories and Textures?

Problem eaters can avoid entire food groups (grains, fruits, vegetables, dairy, and protein). They also refuse foods with different textures (crunchy, hot, cold, chewy, puree, etc.) Typical eaters eat at least one food in each group.

5. What Does Mealtime Look Like? 

Children will typically sit at the table but may avoid certain foods on their plates or take longer than the rest of the family to eat. However, problem eaters usually eat completely different meals than the family, don’t sit at the table, and take shorter than 10 minutes or longer than 30 minutes to eat. Meal time can be stressful for parents of problem eaters. 

Enrichment Therapy and Learning Center Helps Make Mealtime Easier

If your answers to these questions lead you to believe your child is a problem eater, they may benefit from feeding therapy. At Enrichment Therapy & Learning Center, we work with families to decrease the stress related to feeding, creating a positive experience for all. 

Contact us today for a free screening!

(Source: SOS Approach of Feeding, 2024).

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