As parents, we have all experienced the frustration of dealing with a picky eater at some point in our journey of raising children. Picky eating is a common phase that usually starts during the toddler years and can persist well into adolescence and adulthood for some individuals. It often leaves parents wondering what causes this selective eating behavior and how it can be effectively managed.
In this blog post, we will explore the various factors contributing to the development of picky eating habits, including normal developmental phases, medical conditions, anxiety, and even the impact of eating disorders. We will delve into the symptoms of picky eaters and discuss the potential consequences of their limited dietary choices.
But fret not, dear parents and caregivers, for we are not only here to shed light on the problem but also to provide you with practical solutions and guidance. One effective approach in dealing with picky eaters, particularly for children with neuro-developmental differences, is occupational therapy.
Occupational therapy for children has emerged as a valuable tool in helping children overcome sensory issues, oral-motor challenges, and other difficulties that may contribute to their picky eating tendencies. We will explore how occupational therapy can be a game-changer in managing picky eating and enhancing your child’s relationship with food.
So, if you have a picky eater at home or wish to gain a deeper understanding of this complex behavior, keep reading, as we embark on a journey to decode the mysteries of picky eating and uncover the potential of occupational therapy in transforming mealtimes for the better.
Picky eating usually begins between 18 months and 2 years of age, when toddlers’ cognitive development is becoming more sophisticated and they’re better able to process characteristics like colour, texture, and taste. The picky eating phase usually ends by age 5, but for some children it continues into the elementary school years. And for others, it may even last through adolescence and into adulthood.
Children can become picky eaters for several reasons.
Picky eaters may not get enough vitamins such as Vitamin C or Vitamin B12, leading to a deficiency. Parents can give their children multi-vitamins. If a picky eater is starting to lose weight, it is cause for concern. Falling off a pediatric growth chart or having a body mass index (BMI) that’s too low is a sign that picky eating may be affecting a child’s growth and development.
Handling picky eating in neurodivergent children can be a bit more complicated so it’s best to consult your child’s doctor, a dietitian, or a speech language pathologist who specializes in working with kids on the autism spectrum. The important first step is to determine the root cause of the pickiness, which may be due to a digestive issue, such as underdeveloped oral-motor muscles, acid reflux, or chronic constipation. Other times, sensory issues with the taste, texture, temperature, or smell of certain foods might be another factor.
In conclusion, picky eating is a common yet multifaceted behavior that can be managed effectively with patience and understanding. From understanding its various causes to implementing practical strategies, we can help our children develop a healthier relationship with food.
For children with neuro-developmental differences or sensory challenges, occupational therapy can be a transformative tool. At TBC in Dubai, our experienced team is dedicated to supporting your child’s journey towards a positive and adventurous eating experience. If you need personalized guidance or assistance, don’t hesitate to contact us. Together, let’s nourish our children’s bodies and minds with joy and healthy eating habits for a lifetime.