Picky Eaters

By Sarah Ladderud OTR/L, Occupational Therapist

Are you making separate meals for your child from the rest of the family? Do they only eat the same handful of food options, and they “burn out” resulting in fewer food options? Do they have a meltdown when you change something about the food but it’s still the same food?

Kids who are described as picky eaters have limited accepted foods that they consume, they usually will eat some foods from each food group as well as most textures, and they often refuse foods but, in a week, or so will accept and eat it again. Kids who are described as problem feeders often have less than twenty foods, they may refuse entire food groups, and they have a really hard time learning about new or different foods (Toomey, K. 2010).

So….what can help?

  • Talk about the food vs. pressuring them to “just take a bite”
  • Praise their interactions with food! (Looking, touching, smelling & eating)
  • Use heavy work on the way to the table, animal walks, jumping, hopping, or stomping
  • Oral preparation with a NUK brush or toothbrush to wake up the mouth
  • Have the child serve themselves from the bowls
  • Play with your food intentionally, paint, make towers, use cookie cutters, help with food preparations and clean up

Below are some additional helpful resources:


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