Has your little one ever gone through a phase where they seem to eat less and less foods? 🙋 I know mine has!
We never really worry when they’re eating a lot of food, but the phases where they become more selective can, understandably, throw up some red flags for us. As parents, we start to fret about our “picky eater.”
If you’ve started to ask for advice about it, then you’ve probably heard the phrases:
“Oh it’s totally normal; my toddler did the same thing.”
“My baby went through a phase where she didn’t eat anything. It’ll pass.”
“Oh yes, they’ll get over it. Just keep making him take at least one bite.”
“My kiddo lived on chicken nuggets for like, an entire year. It’s just a phase, don’t worry.”
Advice is always well-intentioned, but sometimes it’s just not very good advice ;).
Yes, in most cases, picky eating is a phase. It’s normal for babies and toddlers to go through spurts of eating less, because eating is not the body’s first priority (see my post here for more on that).
Anything from a growth spurt, to a cold, to teething, to cognitive leaps can cause a disruption to your child’s eating habits. There will, of course, be times where they don’t feel like eating much. And that’s okay.
So how do we tell the true red flags?
Is your little munchkin going through a normal picky eating phase, or is there a deeper issue that is being labeled as, “Oh he’s just being picky.” How do you know if it’s “normal,” or if it’s something to worry about and investigate further?
If there is something going on with your little one, it’s best to catch it early so that you can help them work through it. The more knowledge you have, the better prepared you’ll be to help them!
Luckily, I’ve compiled a list of 17 red flags that will hopefully help you out.
The most important thing to remember about these red flags is that they are not to be taken out of context, or in isolation. They are really meant to be clues to watch out for in relation to the whole-child.
Is your little one having trouble eating?
Download “My Top 10 Crazy Easy Tricks to Help your Picky Eater … Eat
- Ongoing poor weight gain (rate re: percentiles falling) or weight loss
- Consistent choking, gagging or coughing during meals
- Ongoing problems with vomiting
- More than one incident of nasal reflux
- History of a traumatic choking incident
- History of eating and breathing coordination problems, with ongoing respiratory issues
- Parents reporting child as being “picky” at 2 or more well-child checks
- Inability to transition to baby food purees by 10 months of age
- Inability to accept any table food solids by 12 months of age
- Unwilling to transition from breast/bottle to a cup by 16 months of age
- Has not weaned off baby foods by 16 months of age
- Aversion or avoidance of all foods in a specific texture or nutrition group
- Food range of fewer than 20 foods, especially if foods are being dropped over time with no new foods replacing those lost
- An infant who cries and/or arches at most meals
- Family is fighting about food and feeding (ie. Meals are battles)
- Parent repeatedly reports that the child is difficult for everyone to feed
- Parental history of an eating disorder, with a child not meeting weight goals (parents not causing the problem, but may be more stressed and in need of extra support)
Remember, singularly, most of these don’t automatically mean your child has a deeper issue going on. Take them in context and alongside an overall view of the child.
Phase or no phase…
It’s good to know these picky eating red flags, or to at least be aware of them. Maybe your child is just going through a regular, normal picky eating phase; however, maybe there’s something more going on. And it’s always best to catch any real issues early on!
When you know what to look for, and what types of things can be problematic, it can help set your mind at ease.
By the way, if you haven’t joined the Baby and Kids Holistic Nutrition Facebook Group, you should! It’s where I hang out with over 800 other health conscious moms who want to better feed their littles.