Getting to know the choosy eater
You were excited about introducing solid food to your child. He loved fruit purees and mashed potatoes, but would not accept anything on a spoon with even the tiniest of lumps. You tried cooking to the softest of textures and even mincing food. But alas, he would have none of it.
While it is theoretically possible to blend every food for your child, it is really not something you can do forever. This form of picky eating impacts a child’s ability to eat a wide variety of food, or even eat enough.
Some children are also sensitive to the smell, taste, temperature and flavour of food, and ultimately avoid them. Choosy eaters often have poor diet quality and miss out on nutrients important to their overall growth and development.
It is important for your child to eat age-appropriate food. Fortunately, with some patience and simple feeding strategies, you can help your child make a smooth transition to a healthy and balanced diet that includes food of varied textures and taste.
Telltale signs that your child may be a choosy eater
– Prefers liquid and soft foods
– Consistently refuses food outside a limited range of preferred food
– Gags or spits out solid food or unfamiliar textures
Consequences of picky eating
– Inadequate nutrition
– Compromised growth
-Susceptibility to illness
– Lower cognitive development
– Strained parent-child relationship
Daphne Koh, mum of 2-year-old Deborah Chan shares: “We are getting really worried about our daughter’s situation with solid food. She is nearly one and a half years old and still prefers liquid or pureed food. We have been trying to get her to eat solids for a few months now, but she hasn’t shown signs of improvement. She simply won’t open her mouth and pushes away the spoon at the sight of solid food. I have even tried to mash her food up and put it on her plate, thinking she didn’t like us feeding her. But she just ended up playing with it. We try to stay calm and avoid forcing our daughter, as we don’t want her to have negative feelings about eating.”
According to Dr Chu Hui Ping, Consultant Paeditrician at Raffles Hospital, babies should be introduced to chewable solids between 6 and 10 months. Delaying this might result in rejection of solids later on. They should be able to accept lumpy or textured solid food by 12 months.
Some methods to introduce solid food
– Ensure she is hungry at mealtime by not serving snacks or juices 3-4 hours prior to the meal
– Limit milk to 3 cups a day (750ml)
– Allow her to play with the food as this reduces anxiety towards new food
– Eat together and share the same food to encourage her to accept new food types, as she sees you as a role model
– Since she may not be getting all the nutrients required, a complete and balanced nutrition supplement may be useful
One possible reason for young children to reject solids is an underlying sensory processing disorder. If you are worried that your child might have a sensory issue, do visit your paeditrician for further assessment.
For more tips on teaching your child healthy eating habits, go to www.pickyeating.com.sg.
The many faces of picky eaters series: