To Chew or Not to Chew-Picky Eaters

16 Jan

ImageAnother complaint that I commonly hear in the office: My kid is soooo picky and won’t eat anything.  This complaint is not restricted to skinny little kids either, sometimes the parents of my average and even large toddlers and school-age children will have the same problem.

So, what does it mean?  There are very, very few medical reasons for why a child might lose his appetite.  Usually, picky eaters are trying to do one thing and one thing only…gain control.

Think about the things you decide for your toddler and young child…where to go, what to wear, where to poop and pee and when to go to bed.

They have one thing that they have control over and that is: To Chew or Not to Chew.

There are many different strategies out there to deal with this issue and I do really advocate for one over another but they all boil down to 3 basic principles.

  1. Tough Momma-“You are going to eat what I serve for dinner or you can just go to bed hungry.”
  2. Too Easy Momma-“You can have cookies and ice cream and soda, I just want you to eat something.”
  3. Tolerant Momma-“You can have your favorite foods as long as they are (relatively) healthy and you will try some new things here and there.”

I have seen both #1 and 3 work, obviously #2 sets you up for trouble.  If you child wins the battle for junk food even once, they will assume that with just the right amount of resistance and fighting, you will give in again and let them have Doritos for dinner.

So, how much should your child be eating?  The answer to this question is tricky.  There is no right amount of food for a growing child.  Children will need different amount at different times  depending on their activity level, rate of metabolism, etc.  Parents all have friends that can eat anything they want and never gain a pound but they also have friends that a pretty strict dieters and can never lose weight.  Guess what?


Kids have different nutritional needs as well.  The ultimate thing that you can use to gauge their nutritio

nal intake is to watch their growth along a growth chart.

You can find all the types of charts based on age and gender at

You can even plot it online at several sites (

So, if your child is growing well…then what do you do?  Keep working with whatever plan you have chosen but be consistent.  Continue to introduce new foods as you can.  They say it takes between 10 and 15 trials of a new food before a child can develop a taste for it.  Just because they throw it on the ground (and smear it on the wall and in their hair) the first few times they try something doesn’t mean that it won’t turn out to be their favorite food in 2 weeks.

Finally, don’t give up.  If your child is not growing properly, get them in to talk to your pediatrician in order to get advice about feeding or to look into what might be causing their lack of growth.  Otherwise, keep offering foods and maintaining as much patience as possible.


One Response to “To Chew or Not to Chew-Picky Eaters”


  1. 2 Year Check-Up | DoctorJSmith - January 22, 2014

    […] to show their stubbornness. You can find some information about how to address your picky eater here. If you haven’t already, now’s the time to switch from whole milk to whatever milk the […]

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