What patients and families need to know
Feeding Disorders: Selective Eaters
Wednesday, December 26, 2012
This is the second in a series about feeding disorders as researched by Children’s National psychiatrist Irene Chatoor, MD.
Do you have a child that will eat only yellow food like macaroni and cheese, but screams any time you serve peas? You may have a selective eater in your house.
According to Children’s National psychiatrist Irene Chatoor, MD
, author of the new ebook When Your Child Won’t Eat or Eats Too Much
, selective eaters are children who either change their food preferences often or consistently refuse the same foods.
There are two types of selective eaters: a) children who change food preferences frequently and b) children who develop sensory food aversions, which can be a taste, texture, or even a whole food group.
Selective eating disorders are caused by several genetic and environmental influences:
- Genetic influences
- Taste bud sensitivity
- Fear of trying new foods is hereditary
- Environmental influences
- Exposure to new food
- Role of rewards on food preferences
- Effect of modeling eating by parents and peers on food preferences
- Effect of negative experiences associated with eating certain foods
These types of eating disorders tend to surface when new foods are introduced. Dr. Chatoor developed a guideline for parents to follow when sharing new food with their children. There are also several things parents can do to specifically treat selective eaters.Selective Eating Treatment:
- Determine underlying reason for selectivity
- Is it food aversion or is the child changing food preference constantly?
- Set limits with children who change food preferences frequently by only offering three different types of food at mealtimes and not giving into demands
- Upon protest of new limits, enable time-out method
- Encourage eating meals together, as a family, to increase modeling
- If your child gags or vomits upon first try at a new food, keep mood neutral, but make a mental note not to serve that food again
For even more tips on feeding children and all about Dr. Chatoor’s research on feeding problems, read her book online
About the Expert
Director, Infant and Toddler Mental Health Program
Irene Chatoor, MD, is the director of the Infant and Toddler Mental Health Program at Children’s National. She is a world-renowned specialist in infant and toddler feeding disorders and developed the classifications for different types an treatments of feeding disorders in children.
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