Occupational Therapy

Feeding / Picky Eating

Picky eating is a common issue among children, and it can be a source of frustration and concern for parents. Occupational therapists play an important role in helping children overcome picky eating and develop healthy eating habits.

What is Picky Eating?

PIcky eating is when a child refuses to eat a variety of foods, preferring instead to stick to a narrow range of preferred items. Feeding our loved ones is an integral part of raising our families, and it can be stressful when our children turn down food that helps them grow and develop It can be a normal part of child development, but in some cases, it can interfere with a child’s ability to get the nutrients they need for growth and development. 

Why do Children Have a Hard Time Eating?

Many people think eating is completely instinctual and that no matter what happens, a child will eat. This a myth, instead eating is a learned behaviour. When a child is learning about a food and it becomes an unpleasant experience, their bodies will turn off their appetites. On top of learning to eat,  there are different factors that could interfere with their ability to eat such as: sensory challenges (e.g., textures, smells), oral-motor control, medically or others. Some of our occupational therapists are trained in assessing feeding challenges and picky eating. They will work with you and your child to make mealtimes successful. 

What are signs your child could benefit from an occupational therapist?

  • Unable to tolerate specific textures (wet, squish, crunchy, etc.) or nutrition (vegetables, meat, fruits, starches)
  • Challenges with sitting still during meal times
  • Picky or Problem Feeders (eating less than 20 specific foods)
  • Ongoing choking, gagging, or coughing during meals

In a nutshell

Here are a few ways an occupational therapist can help:

  • Sensory integration
  • Mealtime structure
  • Play-based approach
  • Modification of eating utensils