Picky Eater vs. Problem Eater

Picky Eater vs. Problem Eater

Parents often wonder if their child is a just a picky eater or if it’s something more that may require Feeding Threapy. Below are some basic characteristics of picky eaters versus problem eaters.

As always, if you have concerns, please contact your pediatrician so that he/she may decide if an evaluation for feeding therapy may be appropriate. Upon evaluation from a feeding therapist, it will be determined if your child would benefit from therapy, how often therapy would be recommended, and strategies to help safely increase food intake.

The following information is shared from the SOS Approach to Feeding website*.

What the picky eater may look like:

  • Decreased range or variety of foods, but will eat around 30 foods or more
  • Foods lost due to “burn out” because of a food jag; usually re-gains interest after a 2 week break
  • Able to tolerate new foods on plate and usually can touch or taste a new food (even if reluctantly)
  • Eats at least one food from most all food texture groups
  • Frequently eats a different set of foods than the rest of the family, but usually eats with the family
  • Sometimes reported by parent as a “picky eater” at well-child check-ups

What the problem eater may look like:

  • Restricted range or variety of foods, usually less than 20 different foods
  • Foods lost due to food jags are NOT re-acquired
  • Cries and “falls apart” when presented with new foods
  • Refuses entire categories of food textures
  • Almost always eats different foods than the family
  • Persistently reported by parent as a “picky eater” across multiple well-child check-ups

There is a multitude of reasons for why a child may be a problem feeder, ranging from aversions due to sensory processing, to having poor strength and coordination to physically be capable of chewing. Your feeding therapist will help to determine why a feeding disorder may be present and if feeding therapy would benefit your child.

~ Kristina, SLP

* Resources: http://www.sosapproach-conferences.com/articles/picky-eaters-vs-problem-feeders