My Little Picky Eater

Boy refusing to eat cereal
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When my son started on solid food, he was just like any other small child. He liked some foods. but not others. He was no pickier than other kids. In fact, as he got older, he ate things I don't think most children would eat like spinach pizza and cream of spinach soup! But then at around age two, he suddenly quit eating foods he had loved. I blame his molars. I think when his molars started coming in, his mouth hurt and he didn't want to eat.

He did start eating again, but he would no longer eat the foods he once enjoyed. He lived for months on milk, whole wheat bread, and fruit.

Worried, I talked to our pediatrician, who said everything was fine. My son was healthy, growing, and gaining weight at an appropriate rate. I was relieved, but that didn't make meals any easier! My son was so picky about what he ate that he didn't even like the usual childhood favorites: hot dogs (he was sure they were hot and were made of dogs), macaroni and cheese, or peanut butter and jelly. And when we had pizza, it had to be cheese pizza and I had to call it plain pizza because "Mom. I don't LIKE cheese." He disliked creamy, gooey textures. I since learned that he had sensual supersensitivities. The feeling of foods with that texture in his mouth was quite unpleasant to him. It didn't matter if the food was sweet. He wouldn't eat pudding either.

When my son started school, packing lunch was a real challenge. It was hard to find healthful foods he's eat, especially foods that could be packed. He didn't like lunch meats either. No bologna, no turkey, no ham, no cheese. And forget a nice chicken drumstick.  He didn't like chicken either.  I did eventually find ways to feed a picky eater.

  It just took some creativity!

Picky eaters are not always just being difficult. It something feels very unpleasant in your mouth, it doesn't help to be forced to eat it. In fact, it could create long-lasting eating problems. This is not to say that you shouldn't try to get your child to eat different foods, but it's better to use encouragement rather than force. If the feeling of a food makes a child gag, it is unlikely that the child will ever want to eat that food if forced to eat it. Instead, make it a game or a challenge, or find another creative way to encourage your child to eat some foods - or at least to try them in spite of what they look like (i.e. gooey).  For example, my son loved dinosaurs, so I managed to get him to eat foods if they were shaped like dinosaurs (like dino-shaped chicken nuggets) or if I could convince him that dinosaurs would have eaten it (like raw carrots).

Do you have a picky eater?  What were your child's favorite foods?  What tips can you share on getting a picker eater to eat?

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