What makes a child a Fussy Eater?


Sometimes the realm of feeding can feel overwhelming. The most important thing to remember is that you and your child are a wonderful team. The fact that you’re reading this article shows that you’re a caring parent that wants the best for your child. I hope that the following information will shed some light on what Fussy Eating can look like.

Tip: Children require a number of exposures to a food (appropriate to their skill level) to accept a new food. 2 year olds can require 2-10 exposures and 3-4 year olds can require 8-15 exposures. 7-9 year olds can require up to 20 exposures.
- (Cook, 2007, J Hum Nutr Diet, 20, 294-301)

Dr. Julie Cichero (2016) reports that Australian children most commonly fall into the following 7 categories of Fussy Eating:

  1. Milk-o-holic
    A child who is over 2 years of age, likely to still drink from a bottle and replaces meals with milk.
  2. Children who do not progress beyond blended purees
    Toddlers who do not progress beyond blended foods and may have an overactive gag reflex. Children who are unable to progress beyond blended puree may also have some challenges with their oral-motor development (ability to move food around their mouth using their tongue and ability to chew effectively).
  3. Neophobic child
    Children who have many anxieties related to unfamiliar foods and has select favourite ‘safe’ foods.
  4. Dry, white food eater
    Children who prefer not to touch foods and rejects wet, slimy foods and sauces.
  5. Small finicky eater
    Children who eat a small volume of food at meal times. Children who are small finicky eaters may have slow or static weight gain.
  6. Avoider of whole food groups
    Children who refuse to eat certain food groups. The two most commonly refused food groups are Meat/Protein & Fruits and Vegetables.
  7. Child with poor feeding habits
    Children who have irregular meal timing and no set mealtime routine. Typically children with poor feeding habits will graze during the day and eat a diet high in processed snacks.

Kat Bray Speech Pathology provides evidence based paediatric feeding assessment and therapy services. Therapy is individualised to suit each child and their family. For more information please contact Kat Bray Speech Pathology.

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