- No kid will starve. Kids who eat a very limited number of foods are indeed starving. They are deprived of adequate nutrition. Most won’t die, but they won’t grow well, stalling in both height, weight, and brain growth. Some extreme picky eaters may appear to grow well, because their diets are limited to fast food and calorie-laden juice or soda. But nutritionally, they are starving.
- Just wait, he’ll grow out of it. Some kids do, but many do not. Up to 25% of typically developing kids will develop a feeding disorder. Feeding disorders are not eating disorders, and are not tied to body image. Feeding disorders encompass a child’s willingness to eat a variety of foods as they mature. In other words, feeding is developmental, just like learning to walk. Pediatricians don’t recommend waiting for a child to “grow out of crawling” and we don’t want your child to grow out of picky eating either.
- All kids are picky. That’s like saying all kids have trouble with math. The truth is, some kids are adventurous eaters and some are not. But, waiting for a child to become an adventurous eater may take a long time, if the changes happen at all.
- You were picky too and you turned out fine. Talk to any adult picky eater and they’ll report they are not fine. Social situations are challenging, because they frequently involve food they cannot eat. Dating is tricky, because that love-interest becomes less tolerant of selective eating habits. Raising kids can be tough, because without an adult modeling healthy eating habits, it’s unlikely that the children will learn to eat a variety of healthy options on their own.
While all the well-meaning advice from friends and family urges parents of picky eaters to ignore it, the truth is I don’t want you to ignore anything. If your child’s picky eating causes stress for anyone around you family table, please contact a pediatric feeding specialist. Whether your child is a garden-variety picky eater or is already a highly selective and anxious eater, there are professional strategies to bring back happier mealtimes.
Melanie Potock, MA, CCC-SLP, is an international speaker on parenting and feeding babies and older kids. She is the co-author of the award-winning Raising a Healthy Happy Eater: A Stage-by-Stage Guide to Setting Your Child on the Path to Adventurous Eating (2015) and Baby Self-Feeding: Solutions for Introducing Purees and Solids to Create Lifelong Healthy Eating Habits (2016). Her new book, Adventures in Veggieland: Help Your Kids Learn to Love Vegetables with 101 Easy Activities and Recipes, The release date is February 6 2018.