Contributor Dr. Elise Herman
Most parents are familiar with the ‘picky eater’- the child who is suspicious of new foods, has strong favorites, and may refuse to eat what the rest of the family is eating. Picky eating is very common in young children, but usually improves by age 5 years. This behavior occurs in part to exert some control over mealtime (and parents) in a way that is often attention-getting.
Regarding feeding your child, it is a parent’s job to offer healthy foods and decide the time and place for eating; it is the child’s job to decide what to eat and how much. Remember that children will eat when they are hungry, and with enough opportunities (it may take 15 ‘exposures’ to something new), will accept and eat most foods. Pressuring a child to eat creates conflict and can make mealtime stressful actually resulting in the child eating less. It is OK if your child occasionally misses a meal because they refuse to eat what is served.
There are things parents can do to minimize “picky eating” and encourage good eating habits that last a lifetime:
If you have concerns about your child’s ability to eat or swallow normally, or if you worry they may not be getting enough nutrition, talk to your child’s health care provider.
more about The contributor
Dr. Elise Herman
Dr. Herman is passionate about community health outreach, school programs, and child/family health and wellness. She has more than 31 years of experience as a pediatrician in Ellensburg, Washington, the last 3 with KVH Pediatrics. In 2022 Dr. Herman mostly retired from practice and continues to contribute blog posts and remain a visible advocate for kids in the community.