Blog: “She only eats 5 foods."

Apr 02, 2024

“She only eats 5 foods."

When a parent tells a pediatrician that their child only eats 5 foods, further questioning is crucial! All picky eating isn’t normal and some children won’t “grow out of it.” Asking the right questions will help you determine if the child has a pediatric feeding disorder. The Feeding Matters questionnaire is a tool for parents and clinicians to differentiate between typical picky eating and signs that may warrant professional help with a feeding therapist. This is particularly important as picky eating is often seen as a phase, but in reality, one in 37 children are diagnosed with a pediatric feeding disorder. Asking the following questions is a quick and easy way to screen if the patient has a feeding disorder or not. Only then can you tailor your recommendations appropriately.

5 Tips for Picky Eaters

When working with families who have picky eaters, your first priority should be to rule out a pediatric feeding disorder. Once you have completed a quick screening and you realize this is age-appropriate selectivity, here are some suggestions you can provide the family.

  1. Make the environment at the table stress-free. Suggest the parent allow the child to be the “waitress” and serve the food.
  2. Establish a regular meal and snack schedule. This will help regulate a child's appetite, making them more likely to eat when it's time.
  3. Involve children in food-related activities, such as grocery shopping, meal preparation, serving food to families, and sensory bins. This can build trust and familiarity with new foods.
  4. Establish feeding roles. The parents decide what, when and where the child eats and the child decides whether she eats and how much.
  5. Model positive eating behaviors. The parents should consume a variety of foods and engage in family meals without distractions. parents set the foundation for their children's lifelong relationship with food. Setting firm yet loving boundaries around meals can also help in this regard.

To learn more about picky eating strategies, listen to this podcast episode: 

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