Are mealtimes an ordeal in your household, with your child refusing to eat their broccoli or turning their nose up at the casserole you made? If so, you’re far from alone: About 20 percent of parents of children who are 2 to 5 years old characterize their little ones as picky eaters, according to WebMD.
Usually, being finicky about food is an irksome but relatively harmless phase that children naturally start to grow out of as they reach the age of 6, according to the University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital. However, in some cases, issues at the dinner table go beyond picky eating and can signal a more serious problem that necessitates pediatric feeding therapy.
There are various conditions that can lead to trouble with eating and swallowing, including sensory processing issues, nervous system conditions and stomach problems, among many other potential causes, as specified by the American Speech-Language Hearing Association (ASHA).
If you’re concerned that your child’s issues with food go beyond normal picky eating, here are some of the top signs that you have a more serious problem on your hands:
1. Your child doesn’t eat more than 20 different foods.
2. They aren’t gaining weight at a healthy rate for their age.
3. They’re older than 1 year and still mostly rely on milk for nourishment.
5. They refuse to eat entire food group, such as meat or vegetables.
6. They have trouble eating in a noisy environment or show signs of other sensory issues.
7. They often gag, choke or cough while eating.
8. They’ll only eat foods with specific temperatures, tastes or textures.
9. They’ll only take small bites and sips.
10. They refuse to drink or eat at all.
If your child shows any of these symptoms and behaviors, they could potentially benefit from feeding therapy. Our pediatric therapists address issues with eating and swallowing by assessing each patient’s unique situation and developing individualized treatment plans. With specialized sensory and oral-motor therapy, our team can help your child overcome difficulty with eating and make mealtimes less stressful for everyone.