Rarely a toddler nutrition or preschooler nutrition workshop goes by without a parent asking me about what age pickiness disappears. I.e. when kids grow out of picky eating.
When parents ask “what age pickiness usually disappears” what I read between the lines is that they’re really asking “how long do I need to put up with this?” or “how long do I need to wait this out?”
This is not the approach that I recommend taking.
First, let me loop back to answering what age kids grow out of picky eating behaviour. I wish I could give a simple answer to this question. However, in my decade of working with kids who are picky eaters, I have come to the conclusion that there isn’t a specific age.
There isn’t a simple answer to this question because there isn’t just one cause of picky eating. The age that a child overcomes picky eating depends on two factors. One factor isn’t in your control. And, one factor is in your control.
Factor #1: The Underlying Cause of Picky Eating
Kids struggle with eating (and get called picky eaters/ fussy eaters/ problem feeders/ etc) for a number of reasons. A few common ones:
Kids who love being oppositional to parents. They figure out that food is a particularly hot button of yours.
Sensitive little souls who need to approach new situations (including new foods) slowly.
Kids with sensory concerns who find many food textures unappealing.
Kids missing chewing and swallowing skills.
As you can see, this factor isn’t under your control. All people, adults and kids, have some things that come easily to us and some things that are more challenging. For example, some of us are good at math, some are more coordinated. Others of us find math or sports/ dance challenging. The same is true with kids and eating. Some kids find it easy. Some kids find it more challenging. The kids who find it more challenging need more support from you to help them overcome this challenge in oder to master the skill of being a good eater. Which takes me to factor #2.
Factor #2: Parents’ Response to Picky Eating
How you respond to your child’s eating can either help them move through their food challenges with more grace (i.e. “growing out of picky eating”). However, while having good intentions, parents often inadvertently add fuel to picky eating, keeping kids stuck in this behaviour. In my experience, the common parenting responses keep kids stuck. I’m talking about techniques such as the “one-bite rule”, needing to eat bites of one food in order to “earn” more of a favourite food (including eating your dinner in order to get dessert), and only serving kids favourite foods.
What can you do? Take action today. Work with me one-to-one to support your family. Schedule an information call: calendly.com/kristenyarker
Get my step-by-step family workbook: https://providetrustlove.com/book
Have a scroll through my blog here to see past parenting tips (and pitfalls) to avoid. Posts such as: