Food and Nutrition

How To Identify A Picky Eater - Does Your Child Show These Signs?

Ambili S Kartha
1 to 3 years

Created by Ambili S Kartha
Updated on Dec 31, 2019

How To Identify A Picky Eater Does Your Child Show These Signs
Reviewed by Expert panel

When you have a toddler, meal times usually turn to wartime. Whatever food I make, however tasty it is, whatever tricks I try, he simply refuses to have it. He just holds his mouth tightly shut, and moves his head from side to side. I’ve done some serious research on the habit of picky eating and learned that picky eating can either be a behavioral trait, or it can be an inherited trait.

What does Picky Eating In Toddlers look like

Picky eating, also known as fussy, faddy or choosy eating is classified as a feeding difficulty. It involves the unwillingness to eat familiar foods or to try new foods. Picky eaters have strong food preferences.

What Causes Picky Eating In A Toddler

Picky eating may happen because of several factors like delayed introduction of chewable solid foods, practices like pressuring a toddler to eat, or improper eating/feeding styles,  as mentioned below:

  • Child not chewing food properly
  • Feeding the child supported by gadgets - once formed as a habit, it’s tough to serve a meal without a screen
  • Child taking too long to eat - the child may keep the food in the mouth forever
  • Child being choosy - preference towards few foods over all others

It is important to note that picky eating continues to rise if not tackled during the early years.

What Are The Common Signs Of  Picky Eating

The common sign of picky eating can also be the signs for when your child is full or not feeling well. However, if your toddler, almost always shows the mentioned signs, especially whenever you try to feed them something new or for a particular food, you can safely assume that you are dealing with a picky eater. You know a picky eater when you spot these signs.

  • If a child pushes away the spoon or pushes away the plate when  you try to feed

  • If the child turns his/her head away from food

  • If the child closes his or her mouth tight when you try to feed

  • If the child is almost always cranky during mealtimes

  • If a child prefers to have the same kind of food daily

What Is Neophobia In Toddlers? Is Picky Eating And Neophobia The Same?

Neophobia refers to an overwhelming fear of the child to new foods or unfamiliar foods. On the other hand, picky eaters are children who don’t consume a sufficient variety of foods. They reject most new foods. For example, if you introduced fruits to your child’s meal and he disliked the taste of it, he might refuse to eat it again and is a fussy eater. On the other hand, a neophobic child may refuse to try any new fruit at all.

Both neophobia and picky eating can lead to nutritional deficiencies in children.

What Happens If The Child Refuses To Eat Certain Food Groups?

The 5 essential food groups which need to be consumed daily are grains, fruits & vegetables, milk, pulses, eggs, and meat. Sometimes a picky eater refuses to consume certain food groups. In such cases, s/he fails to get the specific nutrients from that particular food group. This brings about a nutritional gap that affects the child's health and growth negatively.

I understand this is an issue and I had to make sure that my picky eater gets his daily dose of nutrition. This is when I saw the Ceregrow ad.  Ceregrow is a Toddler Cereal for 2 to 5 years old. It has grains like wheat, rice, oats, barley, and corn. It also has 5 fruits - apple, pomegranate, orange, mango, and blackcurrant, along with milk. This cereal has essential vitamins, minerals and is free from preservatives and added flavours. This way I get the assurance that he has had multigrain, milk and 5 fruits along with nutrients.

Having a toddler who is a picky eater can be utterly exhausting and I am always curious to know new hacks to tackle picky eating. I am keen to know how you have tackled the picky eating habits of your toddler. Please do share in the comments below.

Disclaimer-  This Blog is supported by Nestle Ceregrow. A child needs more nutrition than an adult. Each bowl of Ceregrow contains the goodness of grains, milk & fruits and makes up for the lack of sufficient nutrition. 

This content has been checked & validated by Doctors and Experts of the parentune Expert panel. Our panel consists of Neonatologist, Gynecologist, Peadiatrician, Nutritionist, Child Counselor, Education & Learning Expert, Physiotherapist, Learning disability Expert and Developmental Pead.

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| Jan 04, 2020

Nice article

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| Jan 07, 2020

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| Jan 10, 2020

Hi Sneha, you may give her stuffed paratha of potato,sweet potato, paneer. You can also make puree of spinach, meethi leaves or beetroot and you can add these puree in the dough make colorful paratha and poori. You can also cut them in various shape and give to your child. Other options are daliya, kichdi, porridge, idli,dosa etc.

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