Picky eating

At some point in early childhood, some children start to become very picky. This is quite normal but it can be quite stressful. These pages offer some advice to help you get through what can be a difficult time. It is most common in the second year of life (18 months to 2 years typically), but can happen at older ages too.

Why do children refuse food?

There can be different reasons for this, including:

  • A few children genuinely dislike the idea, taste, smell or texture of a food
  • The most common reason to refuse a food is in order to get something that they prefer.
  • As children get older, they learn that they can control their environment. This includes which foods they accept or reject.

Sometimes food refusal is nothing to do with the food. It can just be that the child is unhappy about something else and has found that refusing to eat is a good way of letting you know about it!

Should I just let my child eat what they will eat?

This is a common and tempting response to picky eating habits.  But there are good reasons to try and reduce pickiness, such as:

  • It is tough on you as it can make it much harder to cook one single family meal. This can be expensive, time consuming and frustrating.
  • The child might be missing out on some nutrients that they need.

Please use the links below to help work out if you need to be concerned and what you can do:

Do I need to be concerned about my child’s eating habits?

Is my child getting enough to eat?

How can I improve picky eating habits?

How can I deal with going out for meals?

What about when my child goes to school?