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Picky Eaters and Parent

  • 1.  Picky Eaters and Parent

    Posted 01-24-2019 02:44 PM
    Help!!  I have a picky eater.  When  she was in the 3 year old class, she would try nothing from the center menu.  After a conference with the director and mom, it was decided that we would continue to encourage her to try the center food and mom would supply a substitute with a written agreement about the nutritional content.  However, according to mom all the child will eat is gold fish, gummy snacks, pretzels, marshmallows. (all junk food).  Fast forward a year, now the children are noticing and complaining that they want snacks for lunch like her.  So, I have asked the mom to bring substitutes like a fruit, protein or anything more nutritional and the mom is now upset because she is concerned that her child is going to starve!  Her doctor and I have told her that if she gets hungry, she will eat what is in front of her.  However, when I asked her the other day, if she lets her get hungry her answer was no.

    I'm needing advice, what would you do in this situation??

    Thanks in advance.

    Shawn Wagner
    Kids' Campus Child Care
    Sweeny TX

  • 2.  RE: Picky Eaters and Parent

    Posted 01-25-2019 07:41 AM
    Picky eaters are super challenging! I'm happy to hear that the child's doctor is involved as well. I also feel for mom because you don't want to see your child go hungry.

    There are many reasons a child is picky. We all have different pallets, so that factors in. Additionally, food intake is one thing a child can control. Past that, some children have extreme oral sensitivities! My own children fall into the latter category. They will starve rather than eat a food that they don't like.

    Two things I'd recommend. The first is having mom talk more with the child's doctor. The child may need to see a feeding therapist. A feeding therapist can help the child find other foods they like. Secondly, I'd recommend that her class studies nutrition, foods, and cooking.  Sometimes taste-testing and preparing foods can help a child be more adventurous. Additionally, my own children are still picky, but they know they have to pick healthy foods to make a balanced meal.

    Best of luck, picky eaters are tough!

    Heather Finnegan
    Preschool Teacher
    Our Redeemer Lutheran Church with School
    Delavan WI

  • 3.  RE: Picky Eaters and Parent

    Posted 01-26-2019 06:15 AM
    Heather Jeanenne Finnegan, I was just going to write exactly what you did! As a Mom, I too had a picky eater (35+ years ago LOL). It was at preschool that he FINALLY began to try new foods! Thank you to his very patient teachers, Dr and MY MOM! I am happy to report that 35+ years later, this kiddo is healthy, happy and will try/eat fact, I am willing to bet, he has a more "adventurous" palate than most of us! Everything you wrote is so "spot on". I was told by the above mentioned support system "don't make a big deal", "don't turn it into a power struggle" and the best advice from his grandma (my Mom) "He won't starve...just don't offer too many unhealthy foods, when he is hungry he will eat" (PS: the only place he would eat easily was at Grandma and Grandpa's house...magic woman my Mom was LOL again). Looking back, I think that was because she didn't fuss about it all. The same at preschool...teachers were totally nonchalant at snack/meal time. Good Luck Shawn!

    Karin King
    Education Consultant
    Trumbull CT

  • 4.  RE: Picky Eaters and Parent

    Posted 01-25-2019 08:17 AM
    I work for the Head Start Program. Our Policy is that no other food is brought into the center. We provide healthy meals and snacks with no added sugar or salt, etc. We do offer alternatives for children with allergies or digestive issues. I have dealt with many picky eaters at different ages. It doesn't help when all the child has known is junk food and the parents give in to that habit. One thing we know is that you can not force a child. Also, it is proven that it takes at least 10 times before a child will try a new food. Some tactics we have tried is a slow process of first touching and smelling the new food. Sensory issues can be a factor, as well, so we just let them touch, smell, and talk about that food. In our toddler rooms, they will next have the child just "kiss" the food. After a few times, they encourage the child to just lick the new food. After a couple of times, they then have the child try a tiny "baby" bite. This step may take awhile, but it if you have patience, the child eventually will try it. We continually talk the child through the process, discussing the food; it's shape, color, texture,taste, etc. It can be a learning experience as well. We end up just having the child just taking one bite so they can get seconds of what they do like, but we never deny them the seconds. As long as they eat something. I hope this helps.
    Theresa Wood

    Theresa Wood
    Teacher Assistant
    Wayne County Action Program Head Start
    Palmyra NY

  • 5.  RE: Picky Eaters and Parent

    Posted 01-25-2019 08:30 AM
    The situation sounds very challenging.  My first thought is to investigate other reasons why the child may only be eating certain foods.  Medical, sensory, emotional factors can be at play.  I was actually reading a few interesting articles about this. This is one of them:
    It might give you some ideas for discussion with the mom. Family collaboration is key in this situation even if you and the family have different views.  Maybe identify 1 or 2 healthy foods that you and the mom can agree upon.  Then introduce the foods during a non eating time or incorporate them into play time somehow. .As far as the other students, this can be a good time to start introducing the concept that everyone has different needs and sometimes not everyone gets the same things.  It is challenging at this age (well really any age) but working through the idea of just because some one else is getting something doesn't mean you get it too.  Easier said than done as I am not in your classroom. Keep up the good work!

    Andrea Moore
    Young Athletes Director
    Special Olympics New Jersey
    Lawrenceville NJ

  • 6.  RE: Picky Eaters and Parent

    Posted 01-31-2019 08:40 PM
    The Ellyn Satter Institute is a great resource, please google it.

    Does the child appear to have other learning challenges?  We know that all young children can pass through picky phases but sometimes children with special needs have extreme food aversions and it can develop into secondary issues.  The power struggles around meal time is worrisome. I agree, a consultation with a nutritionist is important. Many family doctors or pediatricians are not very helpful on this topic unless the parents are insistent that they need to see a specialist.  An evaluation by an occupational therapist can be very helpful.

    Just take a Bite by Lori Ernsperge is an excellent resource too - which explains lots of extreme conditions with helpful information.

    Carol Murray
    Bard Nursery School
    Red Hook NY

  • 7.  RE: Picky Eaters and Parent

    Posted 01-31-2019 08:46 PM
    Also, I want to add that although the title of the book I recommended is Just Take A Bite - that is NOT the strategy that the book recommends.  Trying to coerce children to take a bite is not recommended. The author gave the book this title because that's the advice more people offer and it doesn't work for children with severe food challenges.

    Carol Murray
    Bard Nursery School
    Red Hook NY

  • 8.  RE: Picky Eaters and Parent

    Posted 02-05-2019 11:42 AM
    There are a handful of great experts on eating. We love Melanie Potock (colorado) who gets rave reviews. We have had her in NY. Follow up with me if you want us to bring her to NY. See her website if you just want her books. SLP's parents and others really like her approach.

    Scott Mesh, CEO
    Los Niños Training, NYC