Children of all ages and most adults have some food dislikes. A picky eater is a child with many food dislikes. At age 3, up to 20 percent of children are picky eaters. Up to 80 percent dislike foods with a bitter or spicy taste, and that should be considered normal. Learning to accept these foods should not be expected before the teenage years. Consider the following:
- First: Most complaints are about vegetables, especially those that are bitter or hard to chew. Vegetables are over- rated. There are no essential foods, just essential food groups. Since fruits and vegetables are in the same group, one can go through life eating little if any vegetables, without harm if one enjoys fruits.
- Second: If your child has a strong food dislike, as with one that makes him gag or vomit, that food should no longer be served to him.
- Third: Encourage your child to taste new foods. Many tastes are acquired. Research shows that a new food may need to be tasted 10 times before a child develops a liking for it. Don’t try to rush this normal process of adapting to new foods.
- Fourth: Don't make desserts an area of friction. Since desserts are not harmful, allow your child one serving regardless of what he eats.
In summary,most children who are picky eaters grow out of it. Keeping mealtime pleasant is your highest priority. If you're still worried about your picky eater, just give him a vitamin pill once or twice a week.
If you have other questions about your child's appetite, consult your healthcare provider.
Disclaimer: This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. It is provided for educational purposes only. You assume full responsibility for how you choose to use this information.
Author and Senior Reviewer: Barton D. Schmitt, M.D. FAAP
Last Review: 6/1/2008
Last Revised: 7/1/2005
Copyright 1994-2008 Barton Schmitt, M.D. Parent Advice Messages.