I’m a strong believer that as parents, we just “know” when something is not quite right with our little ones. If we’ve been struggling with our child’s picky eating issues, we will likely seek counsel from their pediatrician.
Feeding concerns won’t be seen as a priority, especially if the child’s weight is “normal” and “on the curve.” However, this isn’t a good indicator, since weight can fluctuate greatly up to three years old and still be “normal.”
Sadly, most pediatricians are sometimes not totally up to date on all things nutrition. They are well-meaning, but they are not always aware of all the intricacies of feeding challenges. A lot of times, their solution will be, “Just wait it out – your child will outgrow their picky eating.”
But – this is not a real solution to a problem we intuitively, deeply, know exists. It doesn’t help make your mealtimes any less stressful, and your child is probably not getting the best nourishment they could be getting!
In some studies,
64% of moms reported mealtimes to be challenging
50% of children are “selective” about their foods
50% of those who are fussy, won’t outgrow it
5-10% of children have deep feeding challenges
So, what do you do when you’re told to “wait and see?”
Come to the pediatrician prepared
I advise my clients to get a notebook, or download an app like My Fitness Pal, and track 3 things. Do it for at least a week, but a month is even better.
The fact that you have these things tracked and listed will show the pediatrician that you are paying attention. You’ve collected data – this isn’t just an imaginary worry you are having. It will also give the pediatrician a starting point for troubleshooting.
I mentioned My Fitness Pal because it’s super easy to track food – you just plug them in. It will show you the nutrition amounts as well. But really, you can use anything! It helps if it is easy to use and easy to keep up on.
Make sure it’s something that you can use to track all 3 of these things: food that your child consumes, how their bodies feel/their behavior, and what tricks you’ve tried.
First, fill your pediatrician in on the food eaten
Track everything your kiddo eats. What they actually consume, not what you offer – those are two very different amounts sometimes! Once you’ve tracked their food intake for a week or so, you may start to see a pattern.
Maybe they’re eating the same 5-10 foods over and over. Maybe they’ve been steadily dropping the variety of food they’ll eat. If they are getting less than 30 different foods regularly, that can be worrisome.
Your spreadsheet may also help you realize that your child isn’t getting enough vitamins or good fats. You may realize they aren’t getting any vegetables like you thought they were. This is something you can go over with their pediatrician as well.
If you’re researching and you look up the RDI (required daily intake) amounts online, just keep in mind that these numbers are HUGE averages. So don’t worry about matching them exactly! It’s just a good starting point for realizing ABOUT where your child should be.
Second thing to track: body and behavior
How is your child’s body? How is their behavior? Once you’re tracking it consistently, you may notice a certain trend. If they’re constipated, sick, or fussy after eating certain foods, that tells you a lot.
Maybe you’ll discover they have reflux? Reflux hurts; it burns. Kiddos may not want to eat if they know it will cause that sensation. Or maybe they are gassy after certain foods. Perhaps they have different looking stools after certain meals.
As you are tracking their body and behavior, you can match it back to your food intake spreadsheet. Cross-reference them, and you and your pediatrician may notice some patterns forming.
Third, tell the pediatrician about what you’ve tried
I’m sure before you take your little one to their pediatrician, you’ve googled, read books, looked up blogs, watched videos, and asked in mom groups to research your concern.
Keep track of everything you have tried and the results – if any – you’ve seen. What was your solution to the problem? Did it work? Did it not work?
This information will help the pediatrician narrow down the true issue. Knowing what was going on, and what types of things either helped or exacerbated the issue, will help the pediatrician troubleshoot.
It will also show them that you are serious about your child’s picky eating. They may say, “Hmm, you need to see a GI specialist.” The information you’ve gathered will help the pediatrician determine if the problem is physical, emotional, lack of oral motor skills, digestive system, etc!
Bottom line: be prepared
If you have taken your child to the pediatrician with valid mommy-gut concerns, you may have been advised not to worry. If you were told, “just wait it out; they’ll grow out of it,” then go home and start tracking! A quarter of children who have feeding problems never grow out of it.
Once you have tracked these three things, your pediatrician may be more on board with taking the picky eating seriously. Or at least more on board with looking into it in depth.
Picky eating is a complex issue. It can require a pediatrician, nutritionist, and/or a dietician. If you would like more direction or help with your tracking project, please give me a call! I would love to let you pick my brain, and we can work it out together 😊
You can book my free 20-minute Picky Eating Assessment here, and I can help you figure out what next steps to take!
Also, if a video is more your style, please check out the Facebook Live I did on this topic!