MomsEveryday: Picky eaters

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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) Amy Carlson and Pam Tauscher discuss how to encourage more food exploration for picky eaters.

Picky eating often surfaces around one yeara time when many children are beginning to feed themselves. They can now choose what and how much to eat, giving them some degree of control over their lives. So some days they may eat a lot of everything. Other days they may not seem to eat much at all.

In addition, while children usually grow a lot and quickly in their first year, growth slows down in the second year. Toddlers are also learning lots of new skills, like talking, walking, running, climbing, and more. During a time of great change, children often seek "sameness" as much as possible, including sticking to the same small group of foods. This consistency can help them feel safe and secure during a period of rapid change.

Parents also need to be in touch with their own expectations about how much their toddler "should" eat. It is unrealistic to expect a toddler to eat a large amount of food at each meal everyday; after all, a toddler's stomach is approximately the same size as her clenched fist (Martins, 2002).

Ellyn Satter, MS RD LCSW BCD, a researcher and practitioner in the field of pediatric feeding practices, explains that both parents and children have their own "jobs" to do when it comes to eating. Parents are responsible for providing healthy foods at meal- and snack-times. Children are responsible for what and how much they eat. This helps children learn what it feels like to be hungry and then fulland how to make healthy choices based on this awareness, i.e., eating when hungry and stopping when full.