When to Worry About Picky Eating

Most picky eating is normal and—though frustrating—temporary. But in some cases it may signal a more serious underlying issue.

1

If She’s Underweight.

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Your pediatrician will monitor this, but if your child’s growth curve is off, she may not be getting adequate nutrition. “A picky child can also be overweight if all she eats is pizza and hot dogs,” says Natalie Muth, M.D., a pediatrician, a registered dietitian, and a coauthor of the forthcoming book The Picky Eater Project.

RELATED: 5 Things Every Parent Needs to Know About Picky Eating

2

If She Rejects Entire Food Groups.

Like all fruits and vegetables. Eating a very small number of foods that always need to be prepared the exact same way may signal a sensory issue.

3

If She’s Fearful.

“Your child may have had a mild allergic reaction to a food and felt sick, prompting her to scream, ‘I don’t like that!’ the next time it’s served,” says Kristi King, a pediatric dietitian at Texas Children's Hospital, in Houston.



4

If She’s Causing Social Distress.

If she’s avoiding birthday parties or summer camp because of the menu, get help from your pediatrician. The same holds if the distress is between parent and child. If eating is destroying your relationship, get help, says Muth.

RELATED: How to Handle Picky Eaters