This article explains how to know when it’s time to get help for your extremely picky eater and covers ways you can get support to help your picky eater try new foods.
“Should I get help for my picky eater?”
“Is this serious enough?”
“Is their picky eating just a phase?”
Parents of picky eaters ask me these questions every day.
When a child’s picky eating is part of your everyday life and when so many people tell you it’s normal and that you shouldn’t worry, it can be hard to know when it’s time to find help for your picky eater.
If you have a more typical picky eater, you might not ever need professional support. However, if your child is more of an extreme picky eater, it’s helpful to work with an expert to help your child learn to try new foods.
If your child is an extremely picky eater, there might not ever be a “right” time to get help. The one thing that I always tell parents, is that if they’re feeling concerned, and mealtimes are stressful for both the parent and the child, then it is worth exploring support.
In my experience, the more time that picky eating tendencies have to become ingrained, the more difficult it is to change them and the more severe eating behaviors can become.
We can likely never predict the trajectory of a child’s eating patterns – maybe it is just a phase, maybe it won’t get worse – but if a child is struggling now, in the moment, and if it’s having an impact on their life and the parents or family, then it is worth getting support.
You don’t have to struggle and stress every time you feed your picky eater.
Here are some surprising signs it’s time to get help for your extremely picky eater.
5 Surprising Signs You Should Get Help For Your Extremely Picky Eater
1. You’re feeling stressed. All the time.
Feeding a child is a lot of work, but it shouldn’t be stressful. And their diet shouldn’t be a constant concern. If you’re constantly stressed about your child’s eating and nutrition, it’s time to get help for your extremely picky eater.
I talk to parents who worry about what they will pack for their child for lunch a year before they start school. Others say their child’s eating is the only thing they think about; it has taken over their whole life.
Imagine how you’d feel if you weren’t stressing about your child’s eating all the time. If you’re stressed and haven’t yet found a picky eating solution that works for you, it’s time to get help for your extremely picky eater.
2. Mealtimes are hard for the parent and child
You hate making multiple meals for your family. Meal prep has become a tremendous hassle, but it’s honestly better than sitting down to eat with your family because that’s when the battle starts. Protesting, discomfort, and tears. Here’s the thing – mealtimes should not be the least favorite part of your day. Sure, they can be a challenge, but if you dread mealtimes, it’s time to get help for your extremely picky eater.
3. You’ve been worried for a long time
Your concern for your extremely picky eater isn’t new. Over the years it’s escalated as your child’s eating habits have stagnated or even gotten worse. Picky eating can be a normal phase of child development. Kids might limit their diets and become more discerning about what they eat, but within a year or two they naturally begin to reaccept more foods. If you’ve been worried for years and see no signs that your child’s picky eating is improving, it’s time to get help.
4. You’re not sure how to handle your child’s picky eating
You’ve read every book and blog post out there.
You scour instagram, saving tips and tricks.
You’ve tried every strategy you’ve found – starving them out, cutting food into cute shapes, bribing, rewards charts, pressuring, not pressuring, ignoring, prompting, sharing meals, letting them eat alone, using a tablet, using toys….
You waver between doing nothing and desperately trying something for a few days before moving on to the next idea. Still, you’re confused and your child is still picky.
If you feel like you’ve tried everything and you’re not sure how to help your child, it’s time to get help for your extremely picky eater.
5. It’s impacting your life outside of mealtimes
It’s normal to have concerns about your child’s eating if they’re a picky eater (even if they’re not, it’s natural for a parent to focus on these things!). You want what’s best for them and never want to see them struggle.
However, it’s not normal for your concerns and their eating to take over your life. If your child’s extreme picky eating is affecting your day-to-day – whether or not you go out to eat and where you go, if you go on vacations, if your child can have sleepovers or attend birthday parties – it’s time to get help for your extremely picky eater.
It might not be easy to decide it’s time to get professional help for your child’s picky eating. You might always wonder if it’s something they’ll outgrow and it’s just a phase or even if you’re overreacting. In my experience, you can never predict a child’s eating trajectory. Sometimes it gets better. Sometimes it stays the same. And sometimes it gets worse.
If you are concerned about your child’s eating and if you have been for some time, it could be time to get help for your extremely picky eater.
Feeling ready to get help and curious about what working with a professional looks like? You can book a call with me to learn more about how I work with extreme picky eaters and their families.