Food Wars Revisited: Picky Eating Strategies

We all seek autonomy, including toddlers.

Around 10 months of age, infants begin to realize that they have free will and can refuse parental requests and demands, and that includes food. Thus, we give you the rise of the picky eater.

Pick Your Eater

It’s worth noting that picky eating behavior is normal for toddlers since they are beginning to learn their likes/dislikes and how to advocate for themselves. These new eating habits can be stressful, especially if you’re worried that your child isn’t eating enough as they grow. Typically, a toddler can tolerate at least 20 different food items across the different food groups.

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The Quick, Long list of Activities for Picky Eaters

The Quick, Long List of Activities for Picky Eaters

Picky eaters may need to see food from a different perspective. Playing with food may seem counterintuitive, but remember, eating at this age is about discovery. Give these activities a try:

  • Edible art
    Allow your child to create artwork using various food items.
    Incorporate foods that vary in texture, temperature, and taste, like leafy greens, dried grains and beans, and raw vegetables. You can also use fruits or vegetables as stamps or stencils.
  • Let food be the paint
    Have your child paint with pudding, yogurt, or Cool Whip. Add food coloring to get different colors. Instead of doing this on paper, use parchment, aluminum foil, or a cookie sheet for easy clean up.
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Food Wars: Eating from an OT Perspective

Eating can be hard for a child. The moment a child begins to establish what they want (and don’t want) to eat, they attempt to express themselves in a multitude of ways that aren’t always straightforward. 

Out of nowhere, they start to refuse what is on their plate for what could be an assortment of reasons. For some, they may only want the same foods with minimal taste (fries and chicken nuggets sound familiar?) or they’ll frequently seek out candy. Sometimes they may become messy eaters with food all over their face or constantly overstuffing their mouths with food. 

From an OT perspective, there can be a few reasons for food aversion. 

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