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“Picky Eaters” Will Not Starve Themselves But Problem or Resistant Eaters Might

I spend a lot of time writing and speaking about picky eating. When I say “picky eater” I am referring to a child who has picky behaviors but can learn to eat a broader diet and change the bad habits that are negatively impacting themselves and their families. However, when it comes to feeding disorders there is a continuum of severity. And many of you have children with more severe food aversions.

Approximately two-thirds of children on the autistic spectrum have severe food aversions which can impact their growth and development. While this population of children often has feeding aversions it is in no way limited to them.

Children with medical conditions that have caused pain when eating often have severe food aversions as do children with sensory integration dysfunction. Children with oral motor impairments may also have a severe fear of eating due to their inability to move food around in their mouth and safely chew and swallow.

Children with these severe food aversions are often referred to as resistant eaters or problem eaters.

The Wrong Advice Is Dangerous

As a feeding therapist who has worked with many children with severe food aversions it is scary to me to read information with no disclaimer that says children will eat when they are hungry and they will not starve themselves .

While typically developing children who are “picky eaters” will not starve themselves or make themselves ill,  problem or resistant eaters might.

If there is any doubt whether a child is a picky eater or a resistant eater I always recommend seeking professional guidance from a feeding therapist.

Some Characteristics of Resistant Eaters

One of the characteristics of a resistant eater is the limited acceptance of food items. This is often the same with picky eaters but more pronounced and severe in the resistant eater. I have seen children with as few as 2 different foods in their repertoire. Often these children will start with more foods and begin to eliminate them over time.

They may suddenly eliminate a favorite food or bring back an old favorite. These children are also very aware of imperfections in foods, even their favorites such as dark spots, cracks, bumps etc. Some children will also eliminate whole food groups such as fruit and vegetables, or meats. However some resistant eaters will only eat from one food group they have chosen which is often carbohydrates, but can even be meat.

Children with oral motor impairments may only accept pureed foods that do not require chewing. These types of behaviors cause fear and frustration in parents and caregivers. It also causes judgment from extended family members and friends who have never dealt with a resistant eater.

Children who are resistant eaters may also gag and/or vomit when presented with new or disliked food. They may also exhibit extreme behavioral reactions which impacts everyone around them. For these children and their families any situation which food is involved can be scary causing avoidance and isolation.

Feelings Of Isolation

Parents have told me stories of feeling isolated in social situations when they are unable to explain their child’s food aversions to other parents. This often leads them to stop making these social plans in hopes of avoiding these awkward situations. They also express fear of leaving their child in a situation where food may be offered which can lead to social isolation for the child. And in many cases these children need the social experiences the most.

Just like picky eating, problem eating can be improved. However, the process is more complicated, ongoing and most often requires professional intervention with a feeding therapist. Children with severe food aversions will likely struggle with these aversions through adulthood.

However they can become healthier eaters with guidance. When parents begin to see early signs of picky eating and food aversions there are tips that will keep the problem from growing larger and out of hand. Often the best of intentions can unknowingly make a problem worse.

There is No Better Feeling

Just recently when in the company of a good friend and his child, watching his 2 year old eat broccoli and chicken, he exclaimed “There is no better feeling than watching your child eat a healthy meal.”

As I have said before, feeding disorders are all consuming to everyone involved. For those of you who have not had the experience of having a child with a feeding disorder, be supportive to those families you may come across in the future.

And for those of you living with food aversions in your family, change is always possible.

(if you would like your child to eat a broader diet and change the bad habits that are negatively impacting themselves and your family call (914) 488-5282 now to request a confidential consultation)

About the author: Isa Marrs is a board-certified speech-language pathologist who specializes in articulation, pragmatic language and feeding disorders in children. She is an expert in the field who is frequently sought after by institutions and therapists to provide training for working with these and other disorders. Isa also served as a guest expert on Nickelodeon’s ParentsConnect.com, and has been quoted by numerous top media such as Disney’s BabyZone.com, LoveToKnow.com, and Univision. She can be reached at 914.488.5282

  • Patrick Stewart

    Do you have a list of feeding therapist in the Dallas Fort Worth area?

  • Stephanie

    Hello! I have an adopted child who refuses to eat anything but bologna or hot dogs. Any attempt to introduce fruits and vegetables or more nutritious food, even a bite, is refused and a temper tantrum ensues.
    I firmly believe that he would starve himself to death if he had only nutritious food to eat.
    Do you know the right kind of food therapist we could contact in San Antonio, Texas.
    Thank you!
    Stephanie

  • Isa Marrs

    Patrick,
    I am sorry I do not have a list of feeding therapists in the Dallas Fort Worth area. I would suggest calling the local hospitals. Quite often they have feeding clinics and therapists with feeding experience.

  • Isa Marrs

    Stephanie,
    I would contact the hospitals and ask about pediatric feeding clinics. Often hospital based programs will have therapists with feeding experience.

  • Angela

    Would you happen to have a list of therapists in the Chicago, Illinois area? Our daughter is 4 years old and I am very worried that she is a resistant eater. She goes all day at pre-school drinking only water. She refuses to eat anything and this has been going on for 9 months now. At home, she only eats pbutter and crackers and sometimes applesauce. We does take her vitamins — she drinks milk and ensure.

  • Isa Marrs

    Angela,
    For a list of therapists in your area you can contact ASHA. That is the American Speech and Hearing Association. You can also contact the local hospitals. They usually have therapy teams and are likely to have someone with experience with feeding.

  • cris

    I have two step daughters that we recently got custody of by cps and in the report it said that the kids were starved by the mom due to drugs. One of the girls is four and the other is seven. The four year old I have no problem feeding, but the seven year old is a battle every time. She doesn’t want to eat when is breakfast or lunch time or dinner, but if are not looking she stuffs her self with junk food or gets food and runs and hides to eat. Is this a sign of starvation or she just wants the junk food? Please I need advise. Thank you.

  • Rossana

    my 11 year old son after I read your page I believe he is a resistant eater . He has been having this problem since he turned almost 10 months old after having the hives .He was treat it by a Occupational therapist at AT children’s hospital Los Angles for the eating prob he was tagged as failure to thrive, and also went to an eating disorder program at the university of southern california UAP clinic department of mental health , but still have this prob. just worry so much about his future , any help in las vegas Nevada we live here now

  • SJ

    My son is a resistant eater and is getting worse and worse. I am so stressed over his lack of nutrition. I am worried about taking him for therapy because he is very, very smart and if he knows that this is about his eating, he will refuse to participate. I also worry about spending large amounts of time and money and getting no benefit from the therapy. What is the success rate for children who are given this sort of therapy?

  • Isa Marrs

    SJ,
    Each program and therapist has a different success rate. I would talk to some of the hospitals in your area and look in to a feeding clinic or have them recommend a therapist or team of therapists who specialize in feeding. When I contact them I would ask then their success rates.

    Children who are resistant eaters most often do not become “great” eaters however they can learn to be more flexible and eat healthier with the right type of intervention.

  • SJ

    Thank you. We are waiting to hear back from his pediatrician for a referral to the local program. I will definitely ask them about this before we get too involved. I’ve been told that there is a waiting list, so I don’t know when we’ll even be able to get in.

  • Isa Marrs

    SJ,
    I hope it all works out! I would love to hear the outcome.

  • Jennifer Crosby

    I have a 3 1/2 year old son who is a resistant eater. He will only eat Nilla Wafers, peanut butter sandwiches on wheat bread, hamburger buns, hot dog buns and doritos. I give him the mini wafers because he has a bad gag reflex and if he gets too much in his mouth he will vomit.
    When I say he eats these foods it’s really not enough to amount to anything. He still sucks a bottle because that’s the only nutrition he gets. I put whole milk, pediasure and baby food in it. I get so aggravated when I try to talk to doctors because the first thing they tell me is to take his bottle away. I’m not going to starve my child. HE WILL NOT EAT. He is also not talking plain or saying as many words for most 3 year olds. Should I contact our local hospital as you suggested to the others above? Your help would be greatly appreciated.

  • Judith

    Can you recommend any books that might be useful? I saw one called “Just Take a Bite: Easy, Effective Answers to Food Aversions and Eating Challenges” by Lori Ernsperger and Tania Stegen-Hanson. Would this be worth purchasing? We live in Bermuda and there are no food therapists here. My son is 8 and his range of food continues to get more and more limited. He is currently in the 50% for height and the 20% for weight, but we are worried that his growth will be affected if he continues to have such a restricted diet.

  • HLM

    Hi, my child is a problem feeder who is extremely resistant to new or different foods (including different brands of familiar foods). She eats a small range of foods, and excludes all fruits and veggies. I wish I’d had more knowledge and support when she was younger. Now, she’s almost ten years old. Is she too old for any type of feeding therapy? Would SOS therapy be helpful in this type of situation? Thank you for an article that validates the reality of our struggle!

  • Jennifer D.

    After reading your articles, I have determined my four year old son is a resistant eater. Like, everyone else we have tried everything. We feel isolated from family and social gatherings, due to the fact that we do not want to face the ridicule and judgement from others. I am so frustrated and do not want to take it out on my child, but being a single parent and dealing with something like this wears you pretty thin. Finding you gave me hope that there is a solution for this problem. I just do not know what to do next, should I send him to a therapist, or look for something more eating specific? Thank you for ANY advice you can offer.

  • Veronica

    I am glad I came across this. This completely describes my son. He will gag on certain foods like chicken. He started off eating chicken nuggets when he was smaller and now wont eat them. There are very few foods we can get him to eat and it is a real pain. Even some of the foods most kids like, he doesn’t care for. I have heard people say that kids will not starve themselves, but my son absolutely will. I don’t know what to do about this because a lot of the foods he prefers cannot be eaten on an everyday basis. He likes spaggetti, but I am afraid his stomach will suffer from too much of that. He likes hotdogs, but they are not healthy at all. He will also eat Ramon Noodles…something else very unhealthy. Dinner time is a nightmare.

  • Veronica

    spaghetti******** Sorry :)

  • Isa Marrs

    Cris,
    I would recommend seeing a child psychologist. Her eating issues are most likely emotional due to her past.

  • Isa Marrs

    Rossana,
    For a list of therapists in your area you can contact ASHA. That is the American Speech and Hearing Association. You may find someone who specializes in feeding. You can also contact the local hospitals. They usually have therapy teams and are likely to have someone with experience with feeding.

  • Isa Marrs

    Jennifer,
    I am sorry for my delay in responding. I definitely would recommend looking into an evaluation with a speech language pathologist. You can look into the local hospital as well as ASHA which is the American Speech and Hearing Association. They have a data base of local Speech Language Pathologists.

  • Isa Marrs

    Judith,
    I really like Child of Mine by Ellyn Satter. I love her philosophy on feeding children.

  • Isa Marrs

    Heather,
    I feel that it is never too late. The SOS program is great. The most important thing is to find a therapist who knows what she is doing and also one who you feel a good connection with. The right therapist for one child might not be the right therapist for another. Each child is different and I feel very strongly about this especially when it comes to something as sensitive as eating.

  • Isa Marrs

    Jennifer D.,
    Sorry for the delay in responding. There is always hope for change. There are several types of professionals who work with children with eating issues. The 3 most common include Speech Language Pathologists, Occupational Therapists and Psychologists. The most important thing is finding someone who you and your son are comfortable with and has experience with problem eaters.

  • Isa Marrs

    Veronica,
    He definitely sounds like he could be a resistant eater. When children have eating/feeding difficulties it is so stressful and I can hear how stressed you are in your message. If you were able to locate someone in your area who works with feeding I would recommend pursuing it. Even some simple changes can help relieve a little stress and improve everyone’s quality of life.

  • SJ

    We finally have an appointment with the feeding team for our son. We will be going in next week. I’m so worried that he will just get worse once he knows why we are going. He is so stubborn and I expect him to get angry and just refuse to eat all together. I hope I’m wrong. Meanwhile, he is down to milk, juice, yogurt, applesauce, and bread. Sigh…

  • Isa Marrs

    SJ,
    I hope it goes well. Sometimes it can get worse before it gets better. Let me know how it goes.

  • SJ

    Thank you, Isa – I will!

  • Christine

    This is such a helpful article! I have never heard of the difference between picky eating and resistant eaters. I have been pulling my hair out trying to get my son to eat new things. I have been to a nutritionist and we didn’t get anywhere. My son currently only eats wheat saltines, and baby food. He is 3 next month. I have him on vitamins and mix them with his soy milk. He is allergic to egg, milk and peanuts. I need help – we live in the greater Cincinnati area, can you please offer me some suggestions on what I can do. Any help would be most appreciated!!

  • Isa Marrs

    Hi Christine,
    The Cincinnati Children’s Hospital has a feeding Clinic. Give them a call and let me know how it goes. Good luck!

  • Christine

    Thank you for getting back to me Isa – I will let you know how it goes.

    Also and most importantly thank you for getting this article out – it made me realize how serious this is, and it was great to see I wasn’t alone.

  • Isa Marrs

    Christine,
    I am happy to hear the article was helpful to you. I hope everything goes well.

  • Julie

    This is a wonderful article, and I only wish it had been written about 15 years ago. My daughter has had feeding issue since she switched to table foods as a toddler. I can’t tell you how many times I brought it up to the pediatricians, only to be told that she will outgrow it. Unfortunately, she is turning 18 and still basically only eats carbs … no fruits, veggies or meats. She is receiving treatment at an eating disorders clinic for the anxiety that is so pervasive in her life regarding food and eating. Could a speech pathologist be helpful to her at this age?? She has insulin resistance, and my fear is that she will eventually progress to full type II DM. We live in Indianapolis. Any suggestions?

  • teri spano

    My son was not diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder until he was eighteen years old! Maybe because he is very smart and always did well on school tests. He also was very verbal at a very early age, he spoke his first work at 7 months. But he is very awkward socially and has food adversions! When he was in kindergarten he threw up because a child sitting next to him was eating an orange. When he was very young, before kindergarten, I could get him to eat bananas and raisins. But since then he wont eat any fruits or vegetables and he is almost 22 years old. He was drinking the v-8 fusion drinks that count as 1 vegetable and 1 fruit per 8oz serving. But even that has dropped by the way side. We live in San Diego county, is there any help for him in our area? He has medi-cal. Also he has become quite obese and I’m so worried about him. From a loving mother, Teri

  • Lara

    Hi, after reading your articles,i am truly conviced that my son needs both speech and feeding therapy, i live in westchester county. Do you accept insurance. Thank you

  • Isa Marrs

    Hi Lara,
    I would love to talk to you about your son. We don’t take any insurance however we will provide any information and codes to help you get reimbursed for the services.
    Isa

  • http://www.sheisfierce.net reccewife

    You have no idea how much this article meant to me.
    My child would be hospitalized before he would let a food he doesn’t like get into his mouth.
    I feel like a terrible parent all. the. time. for giving in, but it’s not picky eating. It’s more.
    I have yet to find a program here in ONtario, Canada that works with eating issues that do not have physical causes. It’s so very frustrating.
    But thank you so much for writing this!

  • Paulina

    Dear Isa,
    It was a great relief finding your website. I have been thinking that maybe I am responsible for my son’s difficult eating, but I just cannot watch him starve so I have been feeding him for years now. He was even difficult on the breast as a baby, taking over an hour to feed of one breast. He eats some variety of food like some fruits, veg purée if hidden in chicken soup, pasta, meat soup if very soft. He is 3 and a half and I am lucky if he actively eats a few spoons of his favourite food (chicken soup with pasta) before he just stops. I have to bribe him with something fun to do for a few more spoons, and then show him a good toy and feed him while he is distracted to get more food into him. He is skinny and always been constipated, which he takes movicol for. He has some possibly sensory processing problems but we are investigating this, but he is not autistic. I was wondering if I should keep feeding him or insist he eats on his own, and if no encouragement helps (it rarely does) just remove his food? So many people tell me I should let him starve for a while if he refuses to eat and he will learn to eat, they tell me I am spoiling him and it is all my fault… what do you think?

  • Isa Marrs

    Hi Teri,
    I do have a list of feeding clinics in CA. I am not sure how close you are to any of them.

    Clinic 4 Kids

    Addison Behavioral Resources

    CSU, Sacramento

    Center For Autism and Related Disorders (CARD) Specialized Outpatient Services (SOS) Feeding Clinic

    Children’s Hospital of Orange County Feeding Program

    California Pacific Medical Center, Kalmanovitz Pediatric Development Center Feeding Disorders Clinic

    Pasadena Child Development Associates

    Hopefully one of these places can meet your sons needs.
    Isa

  • Isa Marrs

    Reccewife,
    I am glad to hear that my article was helpful to you. Check with the Pediatric Feeding Program in Montreal Children’s hospital. They may be able to recommend someone closer to you.

  • Isa Marrs

    Hi Paulina,
    Feeding disorders are very complex and there are no easy answers. I would not feel comfortable telling you what to do without seeing your son or talking to you further. In my opinion there is always a strong behavioral component to every feeding disorder. I often give parents the advice to give back control to their children when it comes to eating and what we usually see is an immediate decrease in food intake. However over time the amount of food the child will eat increases.

  • marlene

    Dear Isa,
    My grandson was diagnosed at 7 months with failure to thrive. He was not taking the breast so was put on the bottle but would not eat enough. He had a NGT inserted at around 10 months. After the tube was inserted he would only feed himself finger foods but it was never enough to sustain the caloric intake that he needed. He then started therapy at 11 months. I do feel the therapy has worked at helping him take food from the spoon so we can give him more calories but we feel he has almost plateaued and regressed as far as finger food is concerned. He gags and throws up when given the finger foods. His throwing up also dislodges the NGT. His parents are at their wits end. What are your thoughts? He goes to Nemours at Dupont hospital in Delaware. Any suggestions.

  • http://www.hablatx.com Pamela Torres

    Patrick,
    I do feeding in some areas of Dallas. You can also try Cooks, Children’s, and OCH Baylor. Good feeding therapists are hard to find in Dallas. Ask lots of questions and also may sure you have a clear home exercise program.

  • Susan

    I, too, have a resistant eater. His doctor said she could refer us to a speech therapist for his pickiness but I’m concerned he needs more of a feeding specialist. Are they one in the same? Is there a feeding specialist near Commerce, Georgia?

  • Susan

    thank you for posting this information for all to see! paulina and i are living similar lives. my son is 4 1/2 and i still have to entertain him during dinner, practically feed him or put the fork in his hand and basically distract him to get him to eat. i have to threaten to put him in the corner/time out so that he stays in his seat for a meal. his list of foods is short and foods he used to eat daily he refuses. items like scrambled eggs, bananas, apples are now on the “no fly” list. he refuses new foods to the point of covering his mouth and running into the other room. he will admittedly say he is scared of the food and i truly believe that he is. i have put foods out for him to cut, tear, squeeze and play with to become familiar, not forcing any eating just allowing him to play and possibly put to his tongue. i encourage him to smell, taste, but don’t force. i’ve introduced new foods 15 times in a row and he will still not even try to put it in his mouth. he is not autistic, he is not developmentally delayed in any other way. he will react to smells and even ask me to take my plate from the table because the smell is so intense for him. i don’t feel he is facing malnutrition but could see that becoming an issue down the line. he eats no fresh fruit, no fresh vegetables and only about once a week can i get him to eat breaded chicken. textures are inconsistent – he will eat oatmeal and dried green beans; soggy cereal and pita chips. if sick don’t even think about getting pedialyte in him. i’m not sure this isn’t an issue that he will grow out of but i am not sure. i just want to do what i can to help him now before this becomes a life-long problem. i’ve seen buzz words like food neophobia, sensory dysfunction and don’t know which is which. do you have any recommendations for services in the philadelphia area by chance? thanks for reading this.

  • desperatemum

    Hi Isa Marrs,

    Thanks for your very enlightening article. I have a 2 year old daughter whose daily diet consists primarily cereal (which I have to prepare with hot water and let cool). Sometimes she attempts savoury foods, but it still has to be a certain consistency (porridge-like) , she even would gag on mashed potatoes if its too thick. She WOULDN’T chew anything, even if I give her chunks of her pineapples, which she loves, shed only suck it or squeeze it in a bowl and drink it, if a tiny piece stays on her tongue – she’d use both hands to brush it off aggressively and would complain till its out of her mouth. If its any snack that’ll melt in her mouth like cheeseballs, she’d just lick it and toss it out later. If her food is too lumpy or thick, she’d gag immediately (and even vomit if she swallowed a little portion).

    I try showing her chewing motions before shed just do some exaggerated motions but now she wouldnt even try. To make sure she gets the right nutrition, I add soya powder to her cereal for protein as her daily milk intake isn’t sufficient, give her vitamin C daily, and multivitamins (well kid syrup). Sometimes I’m successful in sneaking an egg yolk into her mashed potatoes too. However, she loves drinking anything.

    For everything else, she’s developmentally okay, she sings along to barney songs – saying a few words at a time, imitates the kids activities etc. She knows parts of her body, attempts counting along from 1-10 etc (I checked babycentre Uk for milestones).

    Please what can I do! I’m from and live in Nigeria, I haven’t heard of or seen any occupational therapists. The only related therapist I just discovered is a speech therapist 8hours away. http://www.jjcalvaryspeechtherapists.org/contacts.html

    I found a yahoo Q&A that says a “Nuk® Massage Brush Set” and “Textured ARK Grabber XT” might help. I believe I’d be able to get her to use them as a routine the way brushing is, but dont even know how to use them.
    http://www.superduperinc.com/products/view.aspx?pid=om320&view=#.USORKKVvCSo
    http://www.superduperinc.com/products/view.aspx?pid=AG401#.USOZx6VvCSo

    Please what advice can you give me? Right now I’m very worried, out of options and desperate. I really tried all I thought I could do, including things I’m not proud of (like forcing her to eat). Im worried she’d never learn to chew! and I’m also fed up with everyone talking, seriously, I really tried

    Thanks a lot. Looking forward to your reply (sorry this had to be so lengthy, and I even had to caution myself from writing more!).

  • Tonya M

    I have a 16 month old who has stopped eating everything all together. About 7 weeks ago he had the flu and of course vomited a few times and since that moment on he refuses to eat any solid foods. I took him to his Dr for his re-chk and she told me to wait 6 weeks to see if he will eat or gain any weight. His appt was yesterday and as I had told her, he had not gained 1 single ounce, but hadn’t lost any either. They only thing my son will take is whole milk. I have added pedisure to that for the first several days and he vomits that up. Then I started doing half and half, now he smells it and won’t take it at all. I try every food & juice we have over and over again. My son is 16 months and only drinking milk! The Dr called me this morning and wants to take an xray to see if there are any abnormalities. Please I need some advice. I live in Jacksonville, NC….thank you!

  • Jade S

    I have a 4 year old son with ASD and SPD. My family thinks I’m crazy because they have never heard of this. It’s very hard for him to sit and eat, he can’t focus long enough to eat, or remember to use the bathroom, if he to into what he got going on. It’s takes him all day to eat one meal. He won’t eat anything hot. Hot is hot. Cold is hot, warm is hot. He only eat foods that are room temp. I don’t know if it’s because I’m a young mother(23) or what but I need help and sick of negative nancys.

  • Isa Marrs

    Tonya,
    I only know of one feeding clinic in NC and I am not sure if it is near you. It is called Carolina Pediatric Feeding Dysphagia. I have a list of all the feeding clinics in the country and don’t have specifics. You definitely need to find a team to work with your child if medically he checks out fine. It is not uncommon for children to stop eating or more often eat less after an illness. However they usually return to normal after a couple of weeks.

  • Isa Marrs

    Susan,
    Some Speech Language Pathologists specialize in feeding. Many do not. I know of 2 clinics in GA however I am not sure if they are near you or not. They are Building Blocks Pediatrics and Happy Hungry Hippos Pediatric Feeding Clinic. I do not have specific information on these clinics as they are on a list I have of clinics around the country.

  • Isa Marrs

    Susan,
    Children’s hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP)has a pediatric feeding program. I would definitely pursue it.

  • Isa Marrs

    desperatemum,
    Unfortunately I do not know of any feeding clinics in Nigeria. There are many great feeding books on the market and I would recommend reading all you can. I would also be willing to do a phone consult if you were interested just to get you going in the right direction.

  • Jennifer

    Hello. My question is a bit different. I am a 30 year old wife and a mother of two boys. The problem is ME! I eat NO fruits or vegetables except fried okra and baked potatoes. This affects my life in so many ways and I was hoping you could direct me to who I should speak with. I had a horrible step-mother that forced me to eat all my food all the time. I would sit at the table and gag repeatedly and if I didn’t finish my meal, she would have my dad spank me. I would go to the bathroom multple times during each meal so I could spit it out in the toilet. It was awful. I’m not sure if that’s what’s made me the way I am, but it’s the only thing I can come up with.

    I cook vegetables for my family and put them on my plate so that my children don’t see that I don’t eat them. I enjoy the smell. I love the smell of a fresh salad, but I can’t eat it. I have no desire. I wish I could because I would love to diet, but I eat NO healthy foods. Mostly my diet consists of carbs and dairy, which are the two worst things.

    I have thought of trying to be hypnotized. Not that I believe it would work, but I’m desperate to come up with something.

    Sorry if this is totally off your topic, but I was googling food aversions and this site came up and I saw you respond to posts.

    Thank you,
    Jennifer

  • Dennis Becker

    I have a 6yo son who is on the spectrum he has always been a oicky eater, this year his teachers and school nurse have made it a priority to expand the variety of food my son eats. I have been working with his school ABA therapist and also have an ABA therapist come to the home 2x a week to assist with feeding and homework. It has been several months and still we wind of battling with my son up to an hr and 1/2 and occasionally it’s the same at school with eating. Any suggestions will be helpful.

  • Susan

    Hi. I am so thankful to have found this site. My son is 9. He has an aversion to certain smells. If his sister is eating anything messy, like spaghetti, etc. he will leave the table as he can’t stand seeing the mess. He is very bright and an “old soul.” No autism, etc. He eats just a few items, yet he has NEVER eaten one vegetable! He has recently taken a big interest in helping me cook – anything. He loves to add ingredients and “cook” yet he will not sample anything that’s not in his “items.” For example, he loves macaroni. I will cook plain elbow noodles (just trying to get him to try ANYTHING DIFFERENT!) and explain these are the same noodles used in mac and cheese. He will hold the cooked noodle and stare at it and then ask “What if i don’t like it?” to which I reply “Then you don’t have to eat it, but just try it!” He’ll then stick his tongue out and touch it but immediately puts it down…” I don’t like it.” We have been to an OT – spent over $1000 – and the only things they did were have him climb rope walls and bounce on those huge balls (they told us he had low muscle tone – he is very active, plays baseball etc.) They tried to use the biting things but he would gag on them. Long story short, there was a new therapist each time and in the end, nothing improved in my son. With treatment not being covered under insurance, we could not afford to take time from work, drive one hour away and leave the session feeling as though nothing was accomplished. I would pay all the money in the world if I knew it was helping! I’m so sad for him. He says he WANTS to eat certain things but just “CAN’T” (his brain clearly won’t “let him”). We live in Orlando. My son has enjoyed a very happy life. He has many friends, does well in school, is very active but clearly knows he has an eating issue. He once said he “felt like a freak” because he didn’t eat what other kids eat. I told him he is NOT a freak and that we would get through this. It sure felt good to get this off my chest and know we are not alone. Thanks.

  • Kim

    My daughter is 6 years old and she is eating less and less foods the older she gets. I do believe she would starve before eating something she didn’t like. It’s almost like she is scared of the food. My husband and I argue over this all the time. He thinks she is just spoiled, but my mom, sister and I know it is much worse. She had to get glasses at 2 1/2 years old, very strong prescription, and we think that might be when the problem started. She would notice small things on her food, like darker part of cheese on her pizza. She also will only eat some foods from certain restaurants or specific brands. She is the only child I know that will not eat any kind of candy unless it is plain chocolate. I should also mention she does not have any form of autism. She started talking very early and does very well in school. I have tried find a doctor in our area to help with this, but I don’t know anyone with expertise in our insurance plan. Do you know of anyone we can contact about this in the Jacksonville or Orange Park, Florida area? Thank you!

  • Shauna

    Do you have references for Calgary Alberta Canada? My son is 7 and is slowly eliminating all the foods he used to eat. Fruit is out as are most veggies, he won’t even do smoothies. We are down to chicken, noodles with butter & ketchup, meat & cheese wraps (though those are being consumed less) and of course cookies. He has trouble with chewy, crunchy or textured foods. He has SPD , Anxiety & ADHD, he takes Vyvanse and Resperidone but the food issue is getting out of control.
    Is there a good multi vitamin & Omega supplement that I could try so I at least know he’s getting some nutrition?
    Thanks

  • Kay

    Hi… I felt so relieved that I am not the only one in this situation. I have 9.5 month old who gags on everything we give him at the first bute. He is so resistant eater that I usually have to swaddle him to feed. Also he refuses to take the bottle or sippy cut. I spoon fed him everything. He gags so hard that will vomit everything out. Plz help me. I don’t know who to ask for help,

  • Carrielynn A

    Dear Isa,

    I believe my 6 year old daughter is a problem eater, complicated by prematurity, early oral motor feeding problems, food allergies, texture and sensory issues, moderate EE (eosinophilic esophighitis) and anxiety surrounding eating, particularly at the family table or with peers at school. She had numerous issues as a result of her prematurity (30 weeks) and as first time parents, we misinterpreted her behavior at the table, playing with food, refusal to eat and selectivity as a behavior issue. Out of my own concern for her health and dietary intake, I constantly put pressure on her to eat. As you can imagine, it took the original problem and created a monster problem. She now tells me that food makes her sad and every time food is involved, she gets in trouble. So not only does she have physical and sensory issues with food, but she relates food and eating a meal as something unpleasant.

    She only eats soft meat like hot dogs, taco meat and sausage, must have everything skinned, no seeds or chunks, nothing chewy and no mixed textures ever. She has a small list of accepted foods but gets bored often and rejects preferred foods and eats previously preferred foods for a short time. Sweets are always a go but left with nutritious food she would rather not eat. She always rejects breakfast – saying she is not hungry and does not eat lunch with peers, telling me she is nervous that someone will tell her to eat.

    We’ve been working with a psychologist whose philosophy is 3 meals a day at the table and if she doesn’t eat, there is no dessert and no meal until the next one. This requires that I allow my daughter to go hungry. She comsumes about 700 calories a day with little solid food, is in the 45% percentile of growth, but lost 3 pounds this year. As you predicted, when I as the parent stopped pushing food, her intake decreased and she only eats one small meal a day. I’m very scared about how long I let her go when she chooses not to eat. The psychologist is looking at behavior, control issues and anxiety but not the food, the picky eating or the cause of what got us here.

    Any suggestions on how or where to start? I believe her issues are anxiety driven and we need to change her understanding of food, create a happy environment without pressure. But in the meantime, I still have a child who chooses not to eat and whose school day is greatly impacted by lack of food, energy and nutrition. How do we get from point A to point B safely.We live in Albany, NY (3 hours east of NYC).

  • Isa Marrs

    Marlene,
    An NG tube is very uncomfortable and will often make a child gag and vomit. I am not surprised to hear this. Has there been any discussion of a G-tube? Without knowing all the details it is difficult for me to make any specific recommendations.

  • Isa Marrs

    Julie,
    From your description I feel that an eating disorders clinic is more appropriate than a Speech Language Pathologist at this time in her life. From your description there is much more involved than eating. As a young child an SLP could have been beneficial.

  • Isa Marrs

    Jade,
    The description of your son definitely fits with his diagnoses. Do you have therapists who are working with him on all of these concerns? They will be the ones who will guide you and help him through this. If you are not, I recommend finding a good Speech Language Pathologist, Behavioral Therapist and an Occupational Therapist. As a parent of a child with special needs you really need to focus on the positives and not let the negative attitudes of others bring you down.

  • Isa Marrs

    Jennifer,
    I would recommend seeing a psychologist who specializes in eating disorders. Because of your past they would definitely be the best fit.

  • Isa Marrs

    Dennis,
    Without knowing your son it is not possible to make specific recommendations. However with that being said I would definitely recommend against any meal lasting as long as one and half hours. I would always make mealtime no longer that 30 minutes. I would also talk about how to end the battles. All a battle does is lead to more battles.

  • Isa Marrs

    Susan,
    Thank you for sharing your story. Eating issues are so stressful on the whole family. I am sorry to hear that you committed so much time, energy and money for therapy and had nothing to show. The approach that you talk about does not seem appropriate. If you want to improve eating you have to work directly on eating. Also, eating is very emotional and I would never expect a child to make progress if the therapist keeps changing. A big part of the therapy is about trust and you can’t build trust if you keep switching therapists. It is a great sign that your son wants to change. I would recommend looking for a Speech Language Pathologist who works on feeding or possible even a psychologist due to the emotional, behavioral aspects of the disorder.

  • Isa Marrs

    Shauna,
    I am sorry. I do not know anyone in your area. I would recommend starting with your local Hospital(s). They often have therapists who have experience with feeding related issues.

  • Isa Marrs

    Kay,
    Where do you live?

  • Isa Marrs

    Carrielynn A,
    I completely disagree with your Psychologist’s approach. From my perspective this is definitely making the problem worse. Your daughter needs to learn to have a more positive relationship with food. I am available for a phone consult if you are interested. I have many questions for you.

  • Heather Lehner

    Hi Isa,
    My son just turned 8. When he was about 4 he stopped eating almost everything except Cheerios, goldfish crackers and chicken nuggets. (literally all he would eat) His pediatrician told us not to fight with him over food because we wouldn’t win and that he would grow out of it. The only new things in four years he has started eating is pretzels, chips and a very specific cheese pizza. He will not touch a single vegetable, fruit, noodle or dairy drink of any kind. We have tried everything from “this is for dinner or nothing”, letting him help cook, letting him pick things from the store, making the food look fun, having his friends and family encouraging him with how good a certain food was. We even had him on medication to increase his appetite to get him extra hungry. This effects our whole family! On top of this he was diagnosed 2 years ago with ulcers and gastritis. We had to practically force him to take the medication. He should be taking a pill for the gastritis now but no matter what we say or do he will not swallow it! He gags and on occasion has even vomited when trying to get him to take medicine or try something new. He was just diagnosed with ADHD and per the psychologist and myself think he would greatly benefit in trying a medication for it . BUT I know he won’t take it!! At this point his pediatrician recommends a speech therapist. I will try anything. It hurts so much to see him get so upset and cry over eating. I know he doesn’t like being this way but he either mentally or physically can’t change it. Do you feel like a speech therapist can actually help him or can you please recommend another avenue?? I would desperately like your opinion! Thank you so much for your time!

  • Isa Marrs

    Hi Heather,
    It seems like he may need more of an intensive team approach. Where do you live?

  • Stephanie

    Hi Isa
    I have an 11 year old who was abused and neglected. It seems that different textures both him the most and he finds it difficult to chew any foods. Fruits and vegetables are out of the question and anything “healthy”. He craves salt.
    Because he is on Medicaid his options are limited, but we tried an interview with an occupational/feeding therapy group. They were not very enthusiastic in their response – “we think we might be able to help him”. And our son was very put off by the other disabled kids in the busy clinic because he has been so stigmatized at school with special ed. When I read about what feeding therapists do, I know he will not be cooperative with the process.
    He went to a play therapist for 5 years and is now doing equine therapy. But the problem seems to get worse and worse.
    Any suggestions?

  • Jasna

    Dear Isa,

    I have a boy who is 3 years and 8 months old and since the start he has been a bad eater. As a small baby he was often refusing his milk, so often he would go without drinking anything at all between 12pm and 8pm and then at 8pm he would still refuse it, so then at 8pm we would be desperate for him to be fed and often would try to sing to him while pushing the bottle teat in and trying our best to feed him but then he would vomit all out. Then from 6 months of age we started with purees but he was reluctant on those too and we often had to entertain him (sing, dance, DVDs, phone games) in order to get pureed foods into him as he did not want to open his mouth to be fed). My husband found this so hard and would yell at him to eat and our baby boy would scream. Then we tried finger foods but he was also not keen on these too and he would only eat toast. So we continued with purees and entertaining him to get purees in. So until he was 2.5 old has only been eating purees and toast and refused any other real foods. Then at around 2.5 yrs of age from there on stopped the purees but between then and now, so almost 1.5 yrs he accepted only very few foods (he now eats just carbs mainly, and only 3 carbs: so just thin tomato sauce pasta, plain rice or mashed potato/chips or toasted bread. He also eats every day 2 fish fingers or very occasionally 1-2 small chicken nuggets but only if made a certain way. So does not eat ANY fruit, veg, meat, eggs. Eats small amounts of cheese, drinks 500ml of milk a day, sometimes a bit of orange or apple juice. As a child he is very sensitive, emotional, lacks iron (currently takes iron supplements as anaemic). He is very specific about everything – his routines, his cutlery he eats with, his cloths he is wiped with, and similar. If there are any bits on the foods he needs to have them taken out first (like peas in rice) and he won’t have them on his plate at all. We have seen a psychologist but she thinks he is spirited and sensitive but not autistic (because he does now play with the children of his age and his sister although extremely shy when he meets new children or adults).

    We are at loss what to do next and how to increase the number of foods he eats. He has never even tried any fruit/veg/meat/eggs and refuses to go even near the foods he does not eat. We have been told that he “will grow out of this” but we do not see this happening. We have been told that when he sees other children of his age eat all, he will eat all too. But he has been going to a good nursery for a year and a half now, 2 days/week, and he has been having meals with them, and he just eats NOTHING all day long unless he is given the foods he usually eats, and even then he eats only a few bites. He is very skinny and looks very pale and unhealthy. He gets moods swings and tantrums. We do punish him a lot if he is naughty (naughty step or no treats) or reward him when he is good (generally he is a good boy and I am careful not to spoil him in any way but at the same time to offer him love and attention). But how do we make him try new foods if he refuses to go even near them? Even when his baby sister eats the foods he does not eat, he has no desire to touch or try any of those. We even struggled for a year to get him to try even ice cream or sweets like jelly babies as he refused them too until one day he said yes. But I doubt it very much he will ever say yes to trying meat or fruit. So, what can we do to make him eat more foods, at least fruit and meat and not just these processed carbs. I feel isolated and upset as I see all the other children around me eating so well and I feel it is all my fault. So, I wold be so grateful if you could help me somehow.

  • Melissa

    HELP!! My 7 year old son is completely non verbal. He has autism. As a baby he would eat anything you gave him. One by one he started refusing them until he would ONLY eat french fries, cookies, pudding, and baby ravioli. That was his diet for 3 years..this time last year he had surgery where it took 5 adults to hold him down for sedation (because he wouldnt put the medicine in his mouth) and afterwards he stopped eating for 9 days straight. He also refused anything to drink except for chocolate milk. Period. He will no longer drink water, regular milk, juice, tea, soda…anything except chocolate milk. All he will eat now is french fries, mini oreos, and chocolate pudding. Today he is starting to resist the fries. WHAT CAN I DO? I talked to his pediatrician who said “If he wont eat, give him yogurt” Yeah..if he would eat yogurt I wouldnt be calling you.
    My son also has chronic lung disease where in if he cries for a long period of time..he has trouble breathing. I can not take him anywhere that has a glass door on the front of the building (Grocery store, hospital, therapy, school most times) because he thinks it is a doctors office and either will NOT go in or has severe panic attacks when inside to the point of making himself very sick and the crying will cause his breathing to be bad. I dont know what to do and I really could use some advice and help. We live in East Tennessee, Thank you.

  • Isa Marrs

    Kim,
    Unfortunately I do not have any recommendations in your area. I would recommend looking for a Speech Language Pathologist or an Occupational Therapist. Sometimes Hospitals will have therapists with experience in Feeding. I am available for phone consultations as well.

  • Isa Marrs

    Hi Stephanie,
    Where do you live?

  • Isa Marrs

    Hi Jasna,
    I hear how upsetting and frustrating this must be for you. But know you are not alone and did not cause this. Some kids are predisposed to be pickier than others and depending how we handle it will determine the outcome. From what you are reporting I do think it is necessary to get your son some feeding therapy.

    What city and state do you live in?

  • Isa Marrs

    Melissa,
    I am saddened to hear what you and your son are going through. It definitely seems from your description that he needs to get help from a team of professionals with experience with feeding and Autism. I know of 1 feeding clinic in TN. Unfortunately it is in a hospital. However, I do think it is worth contacting them. The clinic is in LeBonheur Children’s Hospital. I don’t know where in TN the hospital is. However they may be able to give you some direction if they are too far. Please let me know the outcome.

  • Shona murphy

    I have a 14 year old and he is mentally retarded and autistic,mostly mentally retarded.he is down to eating only chicken nuggets and that varies and pizza(only the cheese off the top) .He is losing alot of weight and I’m terrified.He will eat tasty kakes,chips and pop tarts and basically is getting to the point where he is picking over that.Please help with any info you may have to seek help,We live in Philadelphia,Pa.Thankyou

  • Tatiana

    hi Isa,
    my daughter is 3.9 years and always formula fed, she had reflux as an infant, she is spirited and has sensory integration issues (noises, lights, textures, adaptation, persistance, intense, no autism) she only eats very few things, like pasta, tortilla, beans (starting to resist), chocolates, chips, popcorn, rice (starting to resist), cookies and yogurth. has never eaten fruits, vegetables, meat or cheese. (except for a sandwich when she was one). she can not stand food she doesnt like on her plate. if she by chance tries a new food and doesnt like it she gags and seems nautious. she is still on formula, we have also tried eliminating the formula but she is just super cranky and still wont eat. she also has precocious puberty and is very tall and heavy for her age (she is under treatment). we live in a small city in Mexico, close to the border with Texas. we are very worried this is not a phase and could get worse. if we fly to NY for an evaluation, is there a way we could to therapy at home with her?. (My girl only speaks spanish) thank you so much for your time. Tatiana

  • Lisa Grant

    Hi, I have a 3 year old who is a fussy eater. He used to eat all fruit, vegetables and meat, but when he turned 2 he refused any of the meals I made him, even is usual favourites. I make things like sausage rolls with grated veg in it or hamburgers with grated veg and can get him to eat these. I have just started to bribe (which I know is wrong) with the promise of dessert and he is trying to eat the vegetables but he gags on them and then vomits. What do you think is going on? Is it behavioural? Is there anything I can do to help him and stop him gagging on vegetables? Thank you!

  • Faith

    HI,

    I have a son that is almost 6 years old. He has been very picky since birth, literally. I did not produce Milk, so he had to be bottle fed. He refused every formula but one, and only the premixed version of that formula. He stopped drinking milk as soon as he transitioned from bottle to cup. He has NEVER had another drop of milk. He used to eat cheese sticks (only one brand) but stopped eating cheese about 2 years ago. He doesn’t eat veggies (painstakingly picking out any speck of vegetable from any item he is offered) or fruit. He lives on peanut butter sandwiches (again, ONE brand of peanut butter and one brand of bread) and plain, boiled pasta. No sauce. No butter. Just boiled and on a plate. He only eats dry cereal (Rice Chex, mostly) for breakfast, has never had an egg, oatmeal, etc. He used to eat MORE foods (French toast, pancakes, bacon for breakfast- Chicken nuggets, tortilla with salsa for lunch and hot dogs for dinner) but now he refuses 90 percent of the food he used to eat.
    Feeding him has become a nightmare. I get upset, I cry. He gets upset, he cries. My husband gets upset. We never made an issue out of his food aversions (I had anorexia as a child and am very sensitive to pressures about food) but now I feel as if this was a mistake.
    WHERE do I start to get our family help??? PLEASE??? I am desperate. I am in NC.

  • Amber M.

    Isa,
    My son is 33 months old with a marked language delay and is currently being evaluated for spectrum disorders, but is now identified as developmentally delayed. He attends a special needs preschool 4 days a week where he receives OT, PT and Speech. My son will not eat anything requiring a utensil(soup, pudding), nor will he eat anything sticky, cold or wet. He mainly eats carbohydrates that are dry and crunchy. His repertoire is comprised of about 5 or 6 staples.We attended several sessions of therapy at a feeding clinic through Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus,Ohio (also conducting the autism evaluation) I hated the OT and the whole aversion therapy bit. They instructed that my child should come in hungry and thirsty and would have to eat non-preferred foods or get nothing and that he would eat if he was really hungry. My child threw food, screamed, and smacked himself in the head when the hated food got even close to him. The OT said there was no sensory issue as my son never gagged or vomited, but how could she determine this when my child never once let that food close to his face?! She suggested a behaviors therapist and I quit going. Forcing him/ making him hate mealtime can’t be right, can it? A friend of mine who is a special needs preschool teacher agreed with the OT and said that his preferred food wouldn’t be preferred if they weren’t in the house to begin with. What do we do? Surely there is a school of thought that doesn’t involve leaving my child hungry, screaming and smacking himself until he bends?

  • Haeley

    I am so happy to have stumbled across this! This is my 7 year old son! You described so many of his issues perfectly! He has been diagnosed with PDD-NOS, SPD and ADHD. He used to be a fantastic eater and would eat most anything he was given until the age of 2. Looking back I think he was just accepting of baby food not the actual foods that made the baby food. Since then he has steadily eliminated food after food from his diet. It went from not eating cuts of meat to not eating cold cuts to not eating any meats at all. No more applesauce, no more granola bars, no more eggs, no more spaghetti. It went from an accepted 4 vegetables and 5 accepted fruits to only bananas and only very occasionally (not even once a week). He has recently began rejecting all peanut butter sandwiches. He will only eat cake, cookies, bread with butter, dry cereal, crackers, cheese (only white american or white cheddar) and chocolate soy milk. I am frustrated because when I bring this up to his doctor (who is also supposedly a developmental pediatrician but I am having doubts because I think if she really was she would be concerned) she brushes it off saying he is growing so he must be getting what he needs. Yes he is in 80th percentile for height but he is 40th for weight! His EI preschool program worked with him and he was doing well and making some improvements but public school Speech and OT will only focus on communication and academic skills. I think our only saving grace is that he will eat gummy vitamins and omega 3s and will et a balance bar (only 1 flavor though). In the past he would only occasionally gag while eating but in the last year this has increased to the point that he coughs and gags during every meal. I have already tried researching feeding therapists in our area, ideally I would like someone to come to the house, but I have had no luck finding anyone. I am in Dutchess county NY.

  • Gamiani

    Hello Ms. Marrs

    I came across your website because I was looking for some advice concerning my son’s eating habits. He is 2 1/2 yrs old and does not want to eat anything other than yogurt, pureed fruit/vegetables, oatmeal, and a specific kind of cracker. This has been going on for about a year now and I am concerned that this will continue if I don’t seek help. I mentioned my concerns to his pediatrician at his last check up six months ago and all was said was keep trying to feed him different types of food he eventually will grow out of it. But I don’t see any change, he refuses to try anything other than what he likes. I was reading your comments where you wrote on “Characteristics of Resistant Eaters” and it truly describes my son’s behavior. I live in New York City, NY and unfortunately I have no means of transportation to get to you. I was wondering if you might recommend a place closer to where I reside or maybe just some advice. Any help you can give will be greatly appreciated.
    Thank You
    Gamiani

  • Catina Farah

    Isa,
    I am sitting here reading all of these comments and going THAT IS MY SON!! same story been to three specialists that did nothing. said he would grow out of his aversions and they have only gotten worse. He is almost 8 and we are down to chicken nuggets, pizza, and corn dogs…no hot dogs…only corn dogs. It is starting to be a social issue and dinner time is nothing less than an anxiety attack for him and heart breaking for me. I have emailing and calling around no there doesn’t seem to be any specialist that focus specifically on eating issues for children not on the spectrum or with special needs. We live in south Florida but I would literally go anywhere to have someone help him. My husband is a bad eater and he hates to think of the social consequences and physical ones as well.

  • Kyle Escobar

    Hello, I really loved your article, as I am studying special education and am currently an Autism Tech. I often struggle with finding out if my son is picky or has an issue. Some of the habits you listed for both types of eaters are present in my son. (My son was born healthy and has been getting excellent reports from the doctors since he was born. He shows no signs of Autism-trust me, I’ve been on the lookout since day 1 for signs due to my line of work and knowing the importance of early intervention :) ).
    To start, we started giving him mashed baby food (after formula) to try to develop his taste for veggies, which was okay. He like peas the most
    Once he was on solid foods, he stuck mostly with peas, and we tended to avoid fruits (we did them in small amounts) so he would learn to love veggies before getting the taste for sugary foods).
    Now he really likes meat (mostly chicken and ground beef-but only in the burger form). He will occasionally eat peas but won’t eat broccoli, cauliflower, etc. He also won’t eat fresh fruits like apples, oranges-sometimes banana. I caved in on giving him goldfish snacks during the day (in between meals) because we are always on the go. He loves the goldfish crackers.
    However, he doesn’t like bread, pasta, cookies or cake…I don’t eat those either due to gluten sensitivity. Some days he will eat large amounts of food during meals and other days he will eat next to nothing. Some days he will try something else, and others he won’t. He does notice right away when a texture of a particular food is different (spits it out), and also can notice any discrepancy in the physical appearance of the food.
    Basically, I just don’t know how to classify his eating habits as picky or something more. (I worry quite a bit because I really want to start only offering him food if it is healthy, and not caving in and giving him something unhealthy, but I don’t want him to get sick. Another cause of my worry is if I don’t eat every 2-3 hours or so, I will pass out–I don’t know if this is something that afflicts my son as well–we also are unable to identify why this happens to me). Any help you can offer is tremendously appreciated! Oh, we are located in Rockville, MD, USA

  • Sharon

    Dear Isa,

    I have a 14 year old daughter who is a very picky eater. She won’t eat any fruits or vegetables. She never accepted vegetables when I introduced table food and self feeding. She did eat fruits then and I continued with spoon feeding puréed vegetables until she started refusing that a little over the age of 1 . She eventually started to reject most fruits too and by age 5-7 stopped completely. I tried to get her to try them, but she would gag and vomit so I didn’t want to force her. She was diagnosed with Celiac disease at age 12, but I suspect she developed it around age 5-7 which is when she started to complain of stomach aches and her height and weight gain slowed down and she started to drop in the growth charts for both. Unfortunately the doctors never considered testing her for Celiac and I didn’t know anything about it at the time, so she suffered for years and as a result was poorly nourished. The GI doctor said they see a lot of Celiac patients that are picky eaters and it can improve after they start a gluten free diet. It has been 2 years now and she still won’t eat fruits and vegetables except on occasion a fruit smoothie…but again she is very picky and won’t drink it unless it is just perfect. She has a real issue with texture. I am concerned that her diet is too much reliant on processed starches like gluten free pasta, sugars in desserts, and animal products like dairy and meats. I was hoping she would grow out of it, but I’m concerned that at 14, she isn’t going to. I would like to find a specialist that can help. I live in suburban Chicago. Can you help?

  • Swapnil

    Hi Isa,

    WE have moved back to India from Berkeley/San Francisco. My 2-1/2 year old son was born in India. My son is struggling with soild foods and textures. Currently we are based in India and have not found good feeding therapist. After reading your article, he fits the description of “resistant eater”. While your contact details are given at the bottom, I did not see any email ID. Can you provide me your contact details so that we can discuss my sons issue and determine steps forward. Also do you offer long distance phone consultations. Please respond back- Worried Parents

  • Isa Marrs

    Tatiana,
    I would recommend a feeding clinic closer to your home and a place that is bilingual. It is essential for your daughter to feel a connection with the therapist with whom she is working. In Houston Texas there is a Feeding Disorders Clinic at Texas Children’s Hospital. I would recommend trying to arrange an evaluation there. It is likely that they have bilingual therapists and they are much closer to you. Please let me know how she progresses.

  • Isa Marrs

    Lisa Grant,
    It is typical at or around age 2 for children to become more choosy about what they will and won’t eat. I do recommend seeking help in order to limit the negative experiences which you describe. We never want to turn mealtimes into battles. A feeding delay may not start as behavioral however if battles around food occur it will end up behavioral.

  • Isa Marrs

    Faith,
    I am sorry to hear about all the stress you and your family are under in regards to your son’s eating. I only know of one feeding clinic in NC. It is called Carolina Pediatric Feeding Dysphagia. It is great that you avoided battles over mealtimes; however, I do agree that you and your family should now seek some help. Please follow up and let me know if this center is able to help you.

  • Isa Marrs

    Amber M.,
    There are many schools of thought when it comes to feeding therapy. I do not agree with the type of therapy you are describing however I do believe that there probably is a behavioral component that needs to be addressed. It is very important to find the right fit when it comes to any type of therapy. I would recommend that you keep searching for a therapist that you and your son are comfortable with.

  • Isa Marrs

    Haeley,
    Unfortunately I don’t know of a feeding clinic in Dutchess County. We are in Northern Westchester County which is not that far. I would love to talk more and see if we could help your son. 914.488.5282

  • Isa Marrs

    Gamiani,
    I do agree that you should talk to someone about your son’s eating. I often see older children who have developed more significant eating issues and wish I had seen them earlier and helped guide their parents. St Mary’s is a Feeding Clinic in Queens. I recommend you check it out. Please let me know how it goes.

  • Isa Marrs

    Catiana Farah,
    I feel it is important for you and your family to seek help. There are many feeding clinics and therapists around the country however I do not know of any in your area. Have you contacted the large Hospitals in Miami? They may have a therapist with experience dealing with feeding issues. Good luck! I hope you find some help.

  • Isa Marrs

    Kyle Escobar,
    It sounds like your son falls under the “picky” category right now. It is important for you not to be too anxious about his eating because he will sense it which can make matters much worse. The fainting spells you mentioned are concerning and I am sure that creates anxiety when it comes to getting your son to eat. Because of that I would recommend seeking guidance from someone who has knowledge of feeding disorders. I would also talk to a medical professional regarding these concerns. You need not to feel that you have to feed your son “something” or he might faint if that is not the case.

  • Isa Marrs

    Sharon,
    Unfortunately I don’t have anyone specific to refer you to. I do believe your daughter needs therapy however. She went through years of associating food with pain and needs to learn that food is safe and won’t hurt her. I would call the major hospitals in the Chicago area and see if they have any Speech Language Pathologists who specialize in feeding disorders. You can also look for Psychologists who work with Eating Disorders. If nothing elso they may be able to point you in the right direction. Good Luck!

  • http://www.hablatx.com Pamela Torres

    Tatiana,

    Hola Tatiana,

    Doy terapia de alimentacion en el hogar en Dallas, TX. Tambien aqui hay varios programas de alimentacion en Our Children’s House at Baylor (ej terapia 2 veces por semana, todos los dias por 6-8 horas al dia por 4-6 semanas, y programas para ninos enternados). Los programas en Baylor usualmente incluyen terapia de alimentación, terapia sensorial, y psicología para la modificación de conducta. Cualquier pregunta se puede comunicar conmigo por teléfono, email, FB, etc. Suerte!!!!

    Pamela Torres, MS, CCC-SLP
    pamela@hablatx.com
    http://www.hablatx.com

  • Isa Marrs

    Swapnil,
    You can email me at IsaMarrs@SpeechLanguageFeeding.com.

  • Isa Marrs

    Shona,
    Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia has a Pediatric Feeding and Swallowing Center. I would recommend seeing them for an evaluation.

  • yvonne

    Hi my 8 year old son , would not eat or try any kind of meat fruit or vegies tryd hypnosis about 3 years ago but I think he was s bid to young and just wasn’t interested now 3 years on I would like to give it another try can you please help me

  • Carrielynn A

    Dear Isa,

    Hoping you can help. I have a 7 year old DD who has just been diagnosed with a generalized anxiety disorder and a feeding aversion. DD was a 30-week only preemie who had mutliple feeding and physical challenges at an early age: including reflux, food allergies, eosinophilic esophighitis, constipation, delayed potty training and sensory and texture issues. As time went on and the physical issues stabilized, the behavior issues at the table and poor calorie consumption and picky eating increased. As a nervous parent, my approach was not the best. Out of concern for her growth, we put pressure on her to eat and constantly criticized her acting out behavior at the table — which in retrospect probably was coming from food anxiety. At the time, we saw it as a behavior issue and tried to insist that she eat. We never force fed, but there was always pressure at the table and a negative experience for her. The end result is that we now have a 7 year old with intense control issues with eating and the eating issues have resulted in her fear to be at the table with us or eat in front of us for fear that she will be yelled at or criticized for her eating. It’s also carried over to school and eating with peers. She eats virtually no lunch at school and is tired and achy at the end of the day.

    It’s taken me a few years to recognize the impact of our choices. I’ve always been afraid to take the doctor’s advice to “remove the pressure” during eating because I was afraid that she would simply choose not to eat. She was never a child who would eat if she was uncomfortable or nervous and never a child who responded to hunger. She would often prefer to not eat and feel bad – instead of be uncomfortable. My concern always came from the fact that she was not consuming enough calories (average of 1000 per day) and recently her growth has slowed. We’ve tried supplements (can’t do dairy) but she rejects them after a while. Recently we have decided to bite the bullet and change our strategy. It’s been one week and, as expected her calorie consumption has taken a nose dive. She’s consuming mostly liquids with a few solids but seems afraid to eat. She tells me she is hungry, then when we sit down, she can’t eat. We’ve tried meals in front of the tv but she has ADHD and would rather watch tv than eat. We’ve greatly changed our behavior, but we feel she is shutting down and are concerned she will starve herself, unintentionally. She is being monitored by her pediatrician, a psychologist and speech therapist at the feeding clinic. She has been started on a low dose of Zoloft for anziety and we will be working with a psychologist. My questions is have you ever seen a food aversion or fear of eating develop from too much pressure to eat? And if this has gone on most of her life, can it be reversed? Do you have any recommendations on how to handle this stage when she chooses not to eat? It’s terrifying to watch as a parent. I’m mostly terrified that this will result in her having a feeding tube. I should also note that her anxiety and willingness to eat are greatly improved when she is with her wonderful calm sitter (once evening per week) or with the SLP during group feeding therapy. She is surrounded by calm adults in feeding therapy, motivated by peer eating, no pressure and when the focus is not on her eating. She also does well if we have company for dinner and she is not the focus, but when it’s just my DD, my DH and I, she can’t seem to eat. So hard to make her not the focus at meals, if it’s just the three of us. Any advice or inspiration would be greatly appreciated.

  • Isa Marrs

    Carrielynn
    It sounds like you all have been through so much. Thank you for sharing. It is such great news that there are environments that your daughter has made progress and is becoming comfortable eating. No two children are ever alike however I have seen many children with severe anxieties related to eating for many different reasons. From your story I don’t believe the pressure that you put on her was the only reason she became so anxious,it sounds like there were many contributing factors. It sounds like you are moving in the right direction and have a team of professionals working closely with you. Given the serious nature of your daughter’s feeding disorder I would not feel comfortable given direct therapy advice. What I would say is that if you trust the team you are working with follow everything they say to do and stay committed. That could make all the difference.

  • katy

    Hi,
    I have a nearly 6 year old son who stopped eating when he turned 9 months old.. he gagged once on lumpy food and that was nearly the end of it all.. for about 2 years all he would eat was yogurts.
    now at 5 he is struggling more than ever, he is very thin for his age and very short,however most of that is heridetory since i am only 4″11 and 6 stone. He is only 14.3kg and 3″
    The strange thing is i went through the same thing when i was a child and also refused food around 9 months but as i have gotten older i accepted food and even though i am picky and have a few things i don’t like i typically enjoy food in all aspects..
    Like with Carrielynn i also feel i have put too much pressure on him to eat.. now however it has gotten to a stage where he gags at the sight of food and gets extremely anxious at the thought of eating.he is on iron supplements but is very pale and i have on more than one occasion been called in by the school because they think he is sick or not sleeping because he is finding it very hard to concentrate and has very little energy after 11am.
    He is under pediactric care but they just see him as your typical picky eater and i have beeen told that “he wont starve himself”.. but he would,quite happily at that.. he even asks to go to bed rather than to eat..
    Recently he has started to reject foods that he once loved and refuses to eat meat or veg so basically his diet consist of bread and potatoes ,a bit of cheese and mayonnaise.
    We have come to a point where we have no idea what to do and the resources don’t seem to be readily available as i have to wait up to 7 months just to see a consultant who then takes another year to refer me to a nutritionist who takes another 6 months to refer me to a physiologist who then tells me he will get better in time..We feel like we are going around in circles.We also have another son 2 who has no problems with food whatsoever..
    ANY advice would be greatly appreciated.
    Katy

  • Isa Marrs

    Katy,
    First and foremost DO NOT listen to anyone who tells you that your son will not starve himself. That is just not true. A typical picky eater will not however it sounds like your son is NOT a typical picky eater. I would recommend having him evaluated at a pediatric feeding facility if there is one in your area. Where do you live?

  • katy

    We live in the west of ireland,we did have a short stay in dublin (5 days) when they evalutaed what he would eat but they where more concerned about his genetics and getting him tested,which they did and all was normal but then they sent him to another nutritionist who just said put the food there and if he doesn’t eat it he will be hungry for the next meal.. i did not listen to this because i know that he wont eat any of the meals given that choice,i never went back to her after that,this is the second nutritionist i have seen that has said this.. they think because i do give him the foods he does like that we never attempt to give him others(which is not the case), im just trying to do it in a way that wont leave him more fearful and my fear is if i do follow their advice is that he will end up quite sick and perhaps hospitalized.
    Katy

  • Isa Marrs

    Katy
    Unfortunately I do not know of any feeding clinics outside of the US. I feel from your initial post that your son needs a strong behavioral approach to his feeding difficulties. Have you contacted the Speech Language Pathologists in the area? They may not work with this population however they may be able to refer you to someone who does. I also recommend contacting Psychologists. There are therapists who work with individuals with feeding disorders. I would even look into ABA therapists. They also work with children who have behavioral feeding disorders. If you are ever interested in a phone consult to guide you please give me a call!

  • Heather

    My son is 10 years old. We had many issues during the first year including eight months of extreme colic, ear infections resulting in tubes at nine months, asthma, and he required ailmentim formula and then lactaid milk. When he began eating foods he showed strong preferences which continue to this day. He would eat certain foods every meal for weeks then stop and never touch them again. The pediatrician did not see a problem “he will eat when he is hungry” or “when he eats ice cream he is getting his dairy intake”. About three years of age all of his medical issues resolved and he has been illness free since. He has had a feeding evaluation and they think he might have acid reflux which he refuses to take the medication. They do not see a sensory issue however he makes comments everyday about the different smells and how repulsive they are. He sees a play therapist for anxiety issues but she even feels the eating is not a primary issue. I struggle each day trying to keep the peace because my husband gets angry that he doesn’t eat my mother worries and I relate to him in some ways because I can be totally repulsed by looking at a food with certain textures. His current foods are made up of mostly tan carbs however we go through periods were he will be more limited than usual and it seems like he isn’t eating at all. I wish this was easier but I can not seem to figure out how to help him. I have another child a 7 year old girl who is the complete opposite and will eat everything to the point my husband gets worried because she won’t stop eating. I just want to have a healthy non stressful meal time.

  • Isa Marrs

    Heather
    It sounds like your son’s feeding issues are behavioral and sensory based. If he is repulsed by the smell of food there is definitely a sensory component. With children like your son I usually use a desensitizing approach mixed with food chaining. The refusal to eat is probably also due to a negative association he has towards food due to his past and present medical conditions. It is rare to see a feeding disorder that does not have many components. The best thing you can do for him along with finding a feeding therapist is to avoid food battles at home. Where do you live?

  • Kris

    Hello,
    My 5 year old daughter has food aversion that affects our daily lives. I have tried to get our Dr. to take my concerns seriously for at least a year but because my daughter maintains her weight & growth it has always been kind of brushed aside & “lets take the wait & see approach & just keep offering her new foods”. I too have been told “most children won’t let themselves starve”. If I hear that one more time I’m going to scream because I know my child would rather go hungry than even touch a new food. How do I even introduce a new food when she can’t even bring herself to touch it?
    I ended up insisting on a referral to someone, anyone, so GP referred us to a Pediatrician. After seeing the Pediatrician who also advised me to “try bribing her & using a sticker chart”, yeah like that’ll work! I have tried it all with no success at all. After being so discouraged I insisted at our last visit that I think there is a lot more involved then her just being stubborn & not wanting to eat, she can’t physically make herself eat unfamiliar foods. The Peadiatrician has now referred us to Psych for possible OCD/Anxiety issues.
    Upon much reading I came across Sensory Processing Disorders which I firmly believe is the route cause. There are so many things that describe my daughter. She was extremely colicky as an infant, never crawled, has issues with certain clothing, has a fear of falling in certain situations, smells bother her that nobody else can detect, etc. we have an appt this week for our first Psych “assessment ” which will decide if she is “severe” enough to be accepted for a year long waiting list!!! Yes, a year wait for help. My concern now is getting them to believe & take my opinion on sensory issues seriously enough so we can be referred to the correct people. I am in Canada & wait times are horrible! I think her sensory issues mainly majorly impact her eating but there are a few mild things along with it. How do I get myself heard & if they don’t consider her “bad” enough to warrant help, then where do I go?

  • Susan Martin

    Kris,

    I am in the EXACT same situation as you!!! My 9 year old has the same issues totally — and after trying a speech therapy program that didn’t pan out, we went to a new pediatrician who has referred us to a clinic for OCD and Anxiety!! So we are trying to get there but are having problems doing so because the place they referred us to deals only with social anxiety and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder….so basically we are back to square one!!! I wish you the best of luck and please keep us updated on how things go. It’s so tough dealing with this..for our CHILDREN.

    Best,
    Susan

  • Isa Marrs

    Kris,
    Thanks for your comment. Just about all feeding disorders have many causes. Sometimes the original cause has resolved and the feeding disorder still remains. It would be helpful, if you believe she still has sensory issues, to get an OT eval as well. It is important to remember that if she works with a psychologist because of anxiety/ocd the eating must be directly addressed.

  • Sarah Schafer

    My daughter has been a “picky eater” since the day she was born. After birth she couldn’t form the proper suction on a bottle and had to stay in the NIC unit until she got the hang of it. From there it has been an uphill struggle most of which I blamed on myself. I was so worried about her not eating that me forcing the issue just made it worse. She is almost nine now and we have worked our way up to where she does eat a few things but is by no means a balanced diet. At the advice of a doctor we started letting have pedisure which reassured me that she was at least getting the nutrition that she needed and I felt that in time she would start trying more foods. About two weeks ago, she was eating a cheese pizza and began to choke on the cheese. There was a lot of stringy cheese on the pizza and a long piece got stuck on the way down. The last few days I noticed that she was starting to spit out her food into the garbage. It has gradually gotten worse to where now she won’t even eat her favorite foods. She tells me that she is afraid of choking again. Living off of pedisure is not the answer and if I can not get her past this I know that I will have a very serious problem on our hands. I’m so worried! What can I do to help her overcome this?

  • Isa Marrs

    Hi Sarah,
    It was nice speaking to you today. Please let us know how everything turns out.

  • Carrielynn A

    Dear Isa,

    I posted our long story in December of 2013 and would like to post an update and ask for your advice. As you know, my 7 year old DD has has a long history of physical eating issues (reflux, EoE, food allergies), developmental delays (oral motor due to prematurity), and a recent diagnosis of anxiety and ADD-Inattentive. We have been working with a few professionals to better understand the problem. She attends a school-based feeding group run by an SLP who understands feeding issues and has been seen by a child psychologist who understand anxiety (not part of the same group). The problem is that the team process is not working well. My DD does very well in weekly feeding group and shows no signs of anxiety when there is no pressure to eat, when there is motivation from peers and is facilitated by a supportive adult. In group, there are also very few signs of current sensory issues or actual oral motor problems. The main problem appears to be that she has felt so much pressure to eat at home (which has extended to school and other environments), that eating and food have become a negative experience. She has never responded to hunger, would prefer to skip meals to do something more fun and never seems motivated by the taste of food. So, we resorted to telling her she must eat in order to be healthy (since about age 3). Without asking her to eat, she simply chooses not to and the more pressure or limits we apply (If you eat 10 bites, you will earn..), the worse the situation gets. She hates coming to the table, displays numerous nervous habits, has developed learned behaviors of avoidance with food and has even resorted to hiding food. I’ve read many of your articles that talk about not making food a battle, or it could lead to eating disorders. So my question is – how do you treat a child who has developed negative feelings of food from force? And what do you do if backing off and allowing her to make good choices doesn’t work? The SLP we are working with understands feeding issues, but not anxiety and tells me this is beyond their scope of practice and the psychologist understands how to treat generalized anxiety, but does not understand food issues such as these. The process feels very disconnected and we still do not have an answer about the cause or how to treat. We do believe she also has some other issues with food – such as sensory (as she seems unable to tolerate anything but plain, soft food with no mixed textures). But, the primary reason for her problems – which has now affected her overall growth and nutritional status – seems to be her negative relationship with food and us. How do we begin to turn this around and remain calm when we are always concerned that she’s not getting enough to eat? Would you be open to a phone consultation to discuss?

  • Tiko

    Please help me. I cried enough . I want this problem to be solved. I don’t want bad thing happens to my boy. I have twins , both boys. They were good eaters until 1.5 years of age. One of them who would eat everything I gave him( I fed 6 times a day with big portions) and suddenly at 1.5 years of age he started refuse eating . It has been 9 months that he eats ONLY crackers. I tried not to feed him the whole day so he would eat at the end of the day but he didn’t so I gave again crackers . Please help me. What do you think happened to him that he turned into a bad eater from being such a good eater? Are we able to fix this. Will he ever eat normal food. He doesn’t let me bring the spoon to his mouth, he pushes it away. He also doesn’t touch any food besides bread and crackers. He is too sensitive . Is this fixable? Please give me some hope

  • Alicia Moreno

    I have a a 3yr old nephew who was diagnoses with autism, he is very thin as he hardly eats. He smells all food before first and most of the food he would not even try once he smells it. The whole family is worried because he doesnt eat. The only thing I know that he drinks dauly ix milk, he still uses a botle and probably has 2 of 3 foods that he is comfortable eating. Is there anything that can help him?
    Thank you
    Alicia

  • Judith

    Hi,
    I have an 8 year old son who I think might be a picky eater I hope. He hardly want to eat anything. An example may be like if I made him fried chicken w rice he will eat the rice but he will eat maybe one or 2 bites of the chicken. It’s always with the meats he never wants to eat as much, but fruits ohh he will eat those. Veggies he has stopped completely which is weird because when he was lil he would eat anything and was alil on the big side and now he weighs I say 50 Lbs and measures 64 inch. He seems to only want to eat junk food which I try to limit but I guess I’m just letting him eat it because sometimes that’s all he wants to eat. Please help thanks.

  • Erica heymann

    I am newly married with a combined family. My husband’s daughter is 7 years old and is a very picky eater. Most of her nutrition comes from processed foods, carbs, hotdogs, (I think we might have her shying away from them.) and sweets!!! The problem is that her Mother isn’t consistent with her having to try new foods because she doesn’t want to her their daughter whine/cry. I don’t think she is patience enough. Example, she hasn’t had vegetables in over 5 years. She will finally ear a few peas at our house, but when she goes to her Mother’s house, she won’t even make them. She’d rather give her pizza 4-5 times in 2-3 days. She’s gone 36 hr without eating, then when she does her stomach is so empty. She attempts to eat but fails and ends up puking for hours later.
    She can just look at the food and cry. Her tantrums are somewhat better, possibly. I’m really worried that she starves herself here because we offer healthy choices and then binges when she goes back home to her Mother’s house. Her typical foods that she eats is: yogurt, apple(sauce), hoy dogs, chicken nuggets, peas, any candy and almost anything dessert, milk, juice, cheese, chips, etc.
    i am worried that this might further complicate things later down the road and she might learn worse eating habits or even worse, an eating disorder.
    Thanks,
    Erica

  • Isa Marrs

    Carrielynn
    Thank you for the update on your daughter. It is great to hear that she will eat comfortably in her feeding group at school. It is also so nice to hear that this kind of group exists. It also gives us more insight into what is going on which you explain so clearly in your post. Does your feeding therapist give your daughter any goals to work on at home? Sometimes if a child is comfortable with a therapist and eating for her, demands coming from her for home practice will be more accepted.The transition from eating in the therapy room to eating at home is often very difficult. Is it at all possible to host any of these groups at your house? This could be a way to desensitize her and make her feel safe.
    I do think you need to be working with a Psychologist who has an expertise in eating disorders.
    I can do phone consults if you are interested. Feel free to call my office and schedule.

  • Isa Marrs

    Tiko
    It is common for children to become “picky” at about 18 months however it seems as though your son has become extremely picky. Have you spoken to your pediatrician? Usually the change is not that sudden or extreme. I would first recommend ruling out any underlying medical issues before talking about how to change his behavior. In order to do this I recommend seeing a Pediatric Gastroenterologist.

  • Isa Marrs

    Alicia,
    Your nephew can definitely make progress with his eating. It will take time and patience. Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders usually do best with a behavioral approach to feeding therapy. If he receives ABA therapy you should talk to his therapists about incorporating eating into his program. There are also programs around the country for children with Autism who struggle with eating. Where do you live?

  • Isa Marrs

    Hi Judith,
    It seems like your son is a bit picky but not outside of the norm. First thing I would recommend is to remove all the junk food from the house if that is what he is eating most. If the junk food is not there he can’t eat it and you don’t need to fight over it. This way he can make healthier choices. I also recommend not watching too closely what he eats and doesn’t eat on his plate as long as he is eating. If he likes fruit and used to like vegetables I would put those on his plate with his rice and chicken and let him eat what he wants. If he likes to eat he will get past this.

  • Isa Marrs

    Erica,
    This is an extremely difficult situation.Feeding requires a team effort and consistency and if she is living 2 different lives change will be hard. My suggestion would be to pick the healthier foods from her diet that she enjoys and feed them to her when she is at your house. I definitely agree that you should not offer the junk food however yogurt, cheese, apple sauce, peas and chicken are healthier options. I would continue to offer healthy foods along side these foods however i would not recommend creating a battle. Because of the 2 houses you can’t win. I assume you have already spoken to her mother however if you have not I would try to come up with a plan that you all can follow.

  • Mel

    Hi, my son is nearly 7. He has been a picky eater since as long as I can remember, and after reading your post I would consider him a resistant eater. For breakfast he eats a variety of things, bagels, cheerios, waffles, pancakes. At lunch he’ll eat PB&J, but they don’t allow peanut butter at his school so I’ve been sending in cheese & crackers and an apple. Now he tells me he doesn’t like the cheese that’s he’s eaten for 2 years, so he’s eating an apple, crackers and a granola bar. For dinner it’s pizza or PB&J. He’ll only eat a PB&J sandwich if it’s made immediately before he is seated. If I take one to a restaurant he won’t eat it because the PB and J have soaked into the bread. He eats a few fruits and for veggies it’s baby carrots, and if I’m lucky steamed broccoli.
    His food resistance causes me so much stress. I am embarrassed and feel that it’s my fault. He is the smallest in his first grade class and hasn’t grown much since last year. I am worried that this is going to have a lasting effect on him as an adult.
    My friend has a son with similar issues and took him to a food therapist but her son’s diet did not improve. Like one of the other mothers who posted on this site, my son’s pediatrician doesn’t think it’s a problem. He referred me to his in-house nutritionist once, and I feel that was a waste of time.
    I feel like I need to do something and am willing to try a food therapist. I live in suburban Philadelphia, not far from Trenton NJ and Princeton, NJ. Would you have any recommendations for me?

  • Jan Burkhard Catlin

    Hi Isa,

    I was wondering if you knew of any specialists that you would recommend in North Carolina. Any help would be so appreciated!!!! Thank you.

  • sara

    Hi….my son is 8. Soon to be 9 an he refuses to try new things. Ive tryed so many things an i am out of ideas. He eats pasta stuff an chicken but no veggies an he will say he is starving but thenbarly eat anything an then an hour later be hungry again Im at a loss an have no idea what to do. He has acid reflux an he uses that as an excuse not to try new stuff an doesnt like an refuses to eat anything sweet…please help

  • Jenna

    I’m hoping you could give me some insight on my son’s eating issues. He’s 21 months, a full term baby that was breast fed exclusively for 6 months then supplemented with formula. He did have acid reflux as an infant and wasn’t able to be weaned off medications until just after his first birthday. He does have a few severe allergies including an anaphylactic reaction to peanuts and an egg and sheep’s milk allergy. He didn’t begin eating solid foods until about 8 months, and always refused to eat baby cereal. His appetite was enormous until about 6 months ago…eating meatballs, grilled cheese, chicken nuggets, and vegetable pouches in large amounts. Then a stomach bug hit our house and the food downfall began…no more of any of his favorites and now even has melt downs when I put them in front of him. His diet consists purely of one cup of milk in the morning,yogurt everyday, a large amount of cheese and crackers,pasta and waffles. We offer him vegetables with every meal which he will rarely attempt to eat. Recently meal time has resulted in major meltdowns and me frustrated and upset that my toddler has such an awful diet. I have a niece in food therapy and although my boys case seems different than some of what I have read, we are concerned that it’s heading in the same direction. This is an issue for us and am not sure when where target go from here. I’m concerned that his choice in foods will lead him to become malnourished. He will eat his body weight in certain fruits which I continue to encourage as well as offering new things too, I myself am a pretty healthy eater so he does see it at home. His pediatrician recommended a protein drink which he of course refuses to eat. Can you tell me if I am dealing with a picky eater or a problem eater? If he is just picky I will cross my fingers that it ends soon, but if it’s more I would like to work on getting g some help. Thank you in advance for your time!

  • kari phillips

    Hello.. I have a daughter, Shadow, who is 14yo and was a previous 25 week preemie with an extensive respiratory history. She was diagnosed with sensory processing disorder when she was only 18months old…and at 6months adjusted she stopped eating alltogether due to it and her oral aversion. She had a G-tube for 4 years and went 3 times a week during that time to see OT/PT/Speech and was in a feeding group her last year. Her diet has always only consisted of meat and carbs until 3 months ago. She had lower braces and an upper expander put in just past Christmas which has caused a bit of a backslide but also her class read a book called “chew on this” which we were unaware of until it was too late.. we noticed that during dinner time she would dole out distgusting facts about meat processing plants and food bacteria ect ect.. all along we began noticing that each day she would turn more and more food away to the point that she has eliminated nearly all of her meat out.. she has never ate fruits or vegetables.. she at 14 will still puke if she is made to take a bite of something she doesn’t want.. her caloric intake has went from say 15-2000kal down to 500-800 cal per day… she has at times became hypoglycemic.. is now wanting to sleep more… has low energy of course.. and we have been scrambling to get her back in to therapy… I never ever thought that we would be back at square one 10 years later. Shadow has went down 3 sizes going on 4 and has lost 30+ pounds.. she has now relegated herself to maybe 12 food choices now and she does not feel hunger or respond to it anymore… It is highly upsetting to hear that the American Psychiatric Association does not yet recognize or have in their diagnostic manual Sensory Processing Disorder and here in the State of Michigan Blue Cross Blue Shield does not cover treatment for it… Her treatment is directed to a “feeding disorder” umbrella but does not directly address SPD which is her actual issue. Is there anyone else out there or more information for teenagers who have relapsed and done this?

  • Kim H

    Great thread! Our 5-year old daughter is normal in every way – socially, cognitively, etc., but is a severe picky eater. She would literally starve herself if she didn’t have the right foods in front of her. She only eats baby food (the Gerber purees), crackers, raisins, yogurt and anything sweet – all toddler type food, but no pasta, no bread, no fruit or veggies (purees only) and no meat. (And Nothing too hard.) But, that’s about it. (We tried to go hard core over a year ago- and by hard core, I mean, she was only given what everyone else was eating at the table, but it totally back-fired.) She just wouldn’t eat. We did take her to a feeding / speech therapist and her motor skills were just fine. The therapist recommended totally trying to de-sensitize her by using “crumbing” techniques and starting with something like a single grain of rice. We tried that recently – just asking her to place a single grain of cooked, plain rice on her tongue for 5 seconds and she gagged and threw up. We’ve been really good at trying to make eating a positive experience, regardless of how healthy or boring the meal might be. But, it’s also had a severe impact on her bowel movements. She has chronic and severe constipation which leads to frequent accidents. It has affected her ability to “feel” the sensation of needing to go. Next week she’s being tested for food allergies and where they will also test her bowels for nerve damage. The doctor said that often they can have food allergies, but it’s only evident on the inside. Hope we can find some answers next week! She starts Kindergarten in the Fall and we want her to get started on the right foot.

  • Isa Marrs

    Hi Mel. You can try contacting Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP). They have a Pediatric Feeding and Swallowing Center. If your son is not a good fit for their program they should be able to give you a local referral who could help.
    Good Luck!

  • Isa Marrs

    Hi Jan,
    I know of one site called Carolina Pediatric Feeding Dysphagia. I do not have the contact information. I would suggest looking for it online.
    Good Luck!

  • Melissa

    Any advice for people in central Massachusetts? I have a resistant 8 year old who has had feeding and GI issues since birth. Thanks.,

  • Natalia Green

    Hello Isa,

    Could you please recommend a place in Chicago or Chicagoland. Thank you for this article.
    Natalia Green

  • Isa Marrs

    Sara,
    First thing I recommend is working with a Gastroenterologist for your son’s reflux. The reflux could be the reason he only eats small portions. He possibly has learned that if he gets too full he ends up in pain. In regards to the vegetables, it is impossible to give advice with such little information about him. If this is something that is impacting your relationship with him and/or his health, I would recommend looking for a feeding therapist in your area.

  • Isa Marrs

    Jenna,
    It is impossible for me to say for sure if your son is a picky eater or a problem eater. Given the 4 foods in his diet he looks like a problem eater however because of how the feeding issues started I am not convinced. Also the history of reflux is another piece. Have you had his reflux reassessed recently? If not I would recommend this. I also would recommend feeding therapy or at least a consultation from a feeding specialist, with you, to help guide you through this.

  • Jennetha

    Hello,
    I have a 19 month old son who will only eat pureed food, cookies or crunchy baby snacks (similar to Cheetos). We noticed a pattern around 12 months that any food that had large quantities of eggs withing the recipe he would vomit up, which we later discovered he has an egg allergy. We’ve tried eating with him, disguising small pieces of meat within the baby food and letting him play with it (even though he won’t touch it or knocks it off of his tray). Also, at this point he’s only speaking three words ( his dad was a late speaker though). I’m afraid those early experiences of him getting sick has made him fearful of trying anything new because he will sit there and refuse to eat. Any suggestions or advice i would greatly appreciate. Thank you.

  • Sai

    Hi Isa,

    My 3.5 year old son is an extremely picky eater. He only eats crunchy or pureed dips but nothing in between. He has been doing good with his weight and height (50th percentile) since he was an infant so the pediatrician has never been worried about him. He does eat healthy quantities of the dosa (Indian crepe) and lentils but will not try anything new that is not crunchy. He was more open to foods when he was a year old than now. I am at a complete loss. We took him to a food therapist but she was unable to make any progress with him and suggested we look into digestive issues. He does not seem to be any discomfort or have any digestive problems so we hit a dead end there as well. He has been at daycare from 6 months and still attends a preschool. He refused to take a bottle when he was at daycare and would starve himself till he came home to nurse. We nursed till he was 2 years old. We finally pulled him out of daycare and moved him to a preschool last summer and he is doing a lot better as he is less clingy. He is very social and apart from his eating issues is a very funny and active child. I quit my job last month to stay home with him to be there for him through this phase. He does seem very traumatized at birthday parties and when we eat out as he is unable to eat the food. In the last few months he licks frosting off cakes and now eats a few sweet potato fries. He even joins me in the kitchen to help with the cooking at times. He is making progress but it is baby steps and very slow. Should we take him to a child psychologist to see if there is some other underlying issue (like anxiety) that could be causing his food resistance issues? I really appreciate your advice.

  • Anissa

    Hi – I need any recommendations for the Seattle/Bellevue area in Washington state please. My 5 year old son is (after reading through your site) a problem eater. I can relate to so many of the posts… Any help or recommendations would be so wonderful! Thank you!

  • Isa Marrs

    Hi Jennetha,
    You are most likely correct in your assumption that your son’s early negative experiences with eating has made him fearful. I would recommend working with a feeding therapist, even if it’s just to guide you, as the next 1-2 years will be extremely important in terms of his future when it comes eating.

  • Isa Marrs

    Hi Sai,
    I was wondering how long you worked with a feeding therapist? Feeding therapy is a slow, long process. If you need guidance I would suggest looking in to another feeding therapist. I have never given up on a child! I would not recommend a psychologist if your son has no other difficulties and is otherwise developing as he should.

  • Isa Marrs

    Hi Anissa,
    Look in to Seattle Children’s Hospital, Growth and Feeding Dynamics Clinic. If they are unable to help you they may be able to guide you to someone who can.
    Good Luck! Isa

  • Isa Marrs

    Hi Natalia,
    I have a few facilities on my list in IL however I am not sure where they are in the state. You can look in to Advocate Hope Children’s Hospital Feeding and swallowing services, Assential Therapies Inc, and Kids at Koke Mill Center for Selective Eating and Pediatric Feeding Disoders. Let me know if anything works out for you.

  • Isa Marrs

    Hi Melissa,
    I know of a few facilities in MA however I am not sure exactly where they are located in the state. You can check out New England Center for Children, Braintree Rehabilitation Hospital at Taunton, and University of Mass Memorial Medical Center Pediatric feeding clinic. Let me know what you find out.

  • Isa Marrs

    Hi Kim,
    Sounds like you have been through a lot! Let us know what the allergy tests revealed. Your daughter can and will get past the hyper active gag and vomiting with the right therapist. It does take time and patience and commitment. I have had many children who have gagged and vomited during therapy and have gone on to be healthier happier eaters!!

  • Isa Marrs

    Hi Kari,
    I am very saddened to hear about your daughter’s struggle with eating. After your description of her I would recommend she work with someone who specializes in eating disorders in teenagers. While her feeding disorder was initially caused by her early sensory disorder and birth history it seems as if it is much more involved now and very different. In order to address some of the sensory issues that may still remain the emotional issues surrounding food must be addressed.

  • Kaitlyn Adams

    Hi there. My daughter is 11 months old and just had her first appt at UC Davis for what I think are food and drink aversions. She has a limited diet at this point and only wants to feed herself. She hates taking from and spoon. She is almost completely off formula at this point and won’t drink milk. I have become so creative it what and how to feed her (I try to mix formula powder and Duocal powder in most of her foods). She is a such a happy little girl but meal times and worrying about her getting enough calories has consumed my life. I also feel that something is off with her hunger and thirst mechanism. She will never just pick up a sippy cup or bottle herself, she has to be offered all through the day. It is truly exhausting. Any advice? I’m a RN am have major anxiety over this. Also, are aversions like this always linked to ASD? She is developmentally on track and very social, but, again, I am concerned. We see the nutritionist in 2 weeks and were referred to the feeding clinic at UC Davis. Just looking for some hope in all this.

  • Shilpi

    Hi Isa

    I have a 9 month old daughter who was diagnosed with FPIES. She has around 4 safe foods so far and she is on an elemental formula. We are facing a very difficult time feeding her. She hardly takes any solids and has a poor weight gain.

    We have spoke to a dietician who told us that our daughter was lagging behind in the texture of food that she must take and the quantity. The variety is restricted because of her condition and we are tryin to introduce new foods into her diet!

    But her poor to lack of solid intake has us really worried!

    Any suggestions on what we can do to help her?

    TIA
    Shilpi

  • noelle

    Hello, thank you for your article and to all those parents sharing your stories. Our son will be 2 in august and has never had a meal. He is still primarily breastfed, I work full time so my supply is not what it used to but I still nurse/pump to keep my supply. He had severe reflux as a baby and he has always refused solids. We have been under care of Stanford but have not felt we are getting the help he needs. He has had an endoscopy done which only showed he has irritation due to food allergies. We are awaiting food allergy testing next week. He has been anemic since 10 months. At this point, his hemaglobims are so low if it is not up by this week he will be hospitalized. We’ve attempted iron supplements since age 1, such a battle as we can hide it in juice, ice cream, anything. We know he must have severe anxiety and fear from his reflux and gastritis pain. We are so desperate to get our son to eat to avoid a feeding tube. We know that he can eat, he has spurts where he may take 5 to 10 bites of refried beans, cheerios, cheese and some chips. The problem is the eating is never consistent and it’s never enough at the end of the day to even count as a meal. We are searching for therapist, feeding clinics, etc. With no help from our doctors, they don’t know how to handle our son. Stanford said we should do occupational therapy and he should be good (this is their recommendation from the results of his endoscopy 3 weeks ago). We have done occupational therapy before with no success and we’ve called every occupational therapist is our area who has said they don’t think they can help. Were hoping for any help or recommendations. We live in the San Luis obispo area. We’re hoping to get more information about early intervention to help with costs, although we are willing to do anything even if it means spending all we have. We desperately don’t want a feeding tube or medical intervention for his low hemaglobin levels. Thank you.

  • Dhana

    Hi,

    My son will be 3 years old in December. He is not interested in food at all. He eats just purees. He can eat any kind of purees even if it doesn’t taste good. But the puree shouldn’t be very thick. He gags and vomits if its too thick.He used to projectile vomit a lot ( he still does that at least once a day while eating/ if he cry for even a minute) since he was born but his growth was good so his doctor never really paid attention. He just doesn’t want even to try a new food. Simply by looking at it he would say no. If i put it in his mouth he will spit it out. He still gags and vomits while eating. His new pediatrician thinks he has acid reflux , so he is on medication for past 2 weeks. No tests were done for his reflux. Only a barium swallow test was done and it came out negative. Are there any tests that can be done to make sure there is nothing wrong with him?

    I took a feeding therapy evaluation next week for him. Would that really help him? Whenever we go somewhere outside he just starves himself and just drink some fluids. I really feel depressed when i see same kids of his age eating with much interest. And if he has acid reflux does he has to be on that medication for ever?

    Please help.

  • Emanuela

    dear Isa,
    I have a two years old son who refuses to eat practically everything. it started 4 months ago for no apparent reason. First he refused to eat soups at all, then all the mail courses and finally desserts. evrything ws fine before – quantities, varieties, but now he only eats yougurt from time to time, frozen fish fingers and McDonald’s french fries. and even this in so small quantities. plus some biscuits. I am so frustrated, we made blood tests and other tests – everything seems normal, but he refuses to eat and when presented with food, he show sign to be ready to vomitm it seems revulsive to him, no matter how appealing i try to make the food. We tried a food therapist – he is so stressed and shows no signs of improvement. Unfortunately we live in Bulgaria where this problem is not regarded as serious and i have no one to turn to. I feel so isolated! i’ve been told to let him start for at least 3 days- but i feel it’s not the right way, ‘cos he prefers to starve than to try something from the healthier choices we give him. I will be grateful for any advice! Even by email, from parents with similar experiences. Can you tell me is there some online therapy i could buy or download to apply it myself at home with my resistent eater kid? Plus, i am 8 months pregnant and it gets harder for me to deal with it, i really don’t know what to do and need urgent help. Thanks in advance!

  • Connie

    Hello, Isa,

    My son is now 19 years old. We didn’t know about food therapy, so have struggled with his food aversion since he was two – when his Asperger’s Syndrome kicked in.

    Can the same techniques work for adults as children in trying to learn how to eat more normally and nutriously? He eats about 15 things on a rotating basis. Oh, if he could only go to a party, a potluck dinner, a buffet, etc. – and eat something! Plus our family is limited to going to only one restaurant (other than McDonald’s) where he likes the grilled cheese.

    Thank you so much for your work in helping people with these difficult issues.
    Connie

  • Isa Marrs

    Hi Kaitlyn,
    What did UC Davis recommend? Feeding issues, while common in the ASD population,are not limited to that population. There are many otherwise typically developing children with food aversions. There are medications that doctors can prescribe that will increase appetite if they feel it is necessary. I would recommend talking to the nutritionist and your feeding team about this. Please let us know how this goes.

  • Isa Marrs

    Hi Shilpi,
    Your daughter’s medical diagnosis definitely makes her food refusals even more complex. I am sure yo are really worried. I do recommend working closely with a feeding team in your area if you are not already doing so. I do not feel comfortable giving any specific recommendations without a more detailed review of your daughters medical records.

  • Isa Marrs

    Hi Noelle,
    So sorry to hear about your son’s feeding difficulties. There are several feeding clinics in CA although I am not sure where they are in relationship to you. There is a program in California State University Sacramento, Children’s Hospital of Orange County, California Pacific Medical Center, and Pasadena Child Development Associates. These are not facilities I have worked with. They are part of the Pediatric Feeding Disorders Consortium. Good Luck. Please let us know how it goes.

  • Isa Marrs

    Hi Dhana,
    I am happy to hear you have scheduled a feeding evaluation. While your son’s feeding issues could be related to reflux he could also have a motor based feeding disorder or a sensory based feeding disorder. He also may have some components of each. In order for him to make progress it is very important to find out the cause of his difficulties. Children can grow out of acid reflux. The reflux could also be due to allergies?? If he even has reflux. Sometimes babies have reflux that subsides however the behavioral responses remain. Please let me know how the feeding evaluation goes and what they recommend.

  • Isa Marrs

    Hi Emanuela,
    It is great to hear that you are working with a feeding therapist. What is she telling you about your son? What are her impressions? Feeding therapy is a long slow progress so I would not expect quick changes. It is common for children to become more fearful of food around the age of 2. Some children get through this phase quickly and some become more picky for extended periods of time. Please let me know what the therapist is doing in therapy.

  • Isa Marrs

    Hi Connie,
    Many of the strategies used with children can also be used with adults. The approach I use with this population is behavioral. I have been very successful with teenagers although it is a long slow process!

  • Sandi

    I’ve probably asked before, but how can I find help for my son? I live in Colorado and I have no idea who could help. We tried “feeding therapy” locally and it was a waste of time. Wish I could find someone who could actually help.

  • Isa Marrs

    Hi Sandi,
    I know of 2 feeding clinics in CO. One is Next Step Feeding & Behavioral Services and the other is SOS Feeding Solutions @ The Star Center (Sensory Therapies and Research). Please let me know if you explore either of these programs.

  • Shannon

    My 9 month old son has recently stopped eating almost anything. He was a good eater for a few months and all of a sudden he will barely eat anything. At firstwe thought it was just a phase, him learning to feed himself, but for three weeks he has taken to spitting out 90% of what he happily gets in his mouth and he will mainly only accept food by nursing. When he is in the highchair and is done eating (or spitting out the food) he cries until we take him out, which means mom doesn’t really get to eat.

    Should we be concerned that this might be the first sign of trouble, is he spoiled somehow, or is it too soon to tell? Any suggestions on what we can try? He’s normally a super happy baby so this is very concerning to me.

    Thank you so very much for your blog and for your thoughts!

  • Isa Marrs

    Hi Shannon,
    I definitely would not ignore the fact that he has stopped swallowing solid food. There is a chance that it is just him exploring however the outcome will on how you handle these behaviors. There also could be a reason why he does not want to swallow. I would recommend that you have him evaluated by a Speech Language Pathologist who specializes in feeding. Please let us know how it goes.

  • Pauline Brown

    I have a 4 year old who has a very restricted diet. She eats no meat fruit veg. She will only eat rice and pasta with nothing added,bread crackers, cheese and scones. It appears that she will only eat food with little colour. She will only eat the base of a pizza ….no toppings at all. She gets very upset at the mention of trying different foods. If I put a new food in front of her she visably gets distraught and fearful. She is eager to please and will tell me that she really wants to eat the food but is afraid. I do not know what to do to turn things around.
    Pauline Brown

  • Heather Talbert

    Hi Isa,

    Do you know of any feeding clinics in the SW Milwaukee area? I need some advice regarding my 6 year old son, H, and his food issues: picky eating and texture aversion. I haven’t usually categorized him as HSC but I’m realizing now that he probably is. H has been a picky eater, really a resistant eater, since he was 15 months old. For 4 years after that, all he ate was crackers, white bread, fries and chicken nuggets. I believe it stems from a combination of 3 factors: food allergies, texture issues, and stubbornness. We only discovered his food allergies 9 mos ago to wheat, soy and a bit to dairy, giving him constant dull tummy aches and stool hard enough to give him a hemorrhoid. So all he wanted were foods that would soothe that, like crackers, and like many other children, was drawn to the foods that he was sensitive to. (Ref. one of my book faves, What’s Eating Your Child, by Kelly Dorfman.) Since then we’ve switched to gluten and soy free, and tried to expand his diet. But aside from chicken nuggets and now raisins, he will still not eat any meat, fruit or vegetables. I’ve gone so far as to make him take a bite and tell him he can’t spit it out until he chews it and tries it, and he will stubbornly cry for 10 even 15 minutes until I let him spit it out. I know now that is not the right or kind way to handle it, but you get desperate. And as for the texture, he gags at applesauce, and worries so much about other foods in his mouth that he doesn’t know. He even worries about food touching him from other people’s plates at the table. This is what I am most worried about right now in the short run as he will be starting all day kindergarten next Tuesday. He cringes away from the table where we are all eating, wants to pull his chair far away, wimpers, says “no!” when we try to get him to sit close enough to the table for him to eat. We try to get him to pretend he is in his own little bubble and nothing can get at him, but he is still afraid. And he can hardly get any food eaten unless he feels far enough away. I’m worried he either won’t get any lunch eaten during the day because he will be so afraid of other kids food touching him at the cafeteria tables, or he will be laughed at and teased for being so “weird”. He may even need to sit alone at another table like they do to punish kids sometimes, just so he can eat his food. But he is so social, that would be sad for him too. Sorry for the long post, I’m just at my wits end trying to manage H and his food issues and Tuesday will be a threshold he needs to walk through as he begins to grow up in this world of normal eating. Someone just made me aware of food therapy and I can look around but a referral would be most helpful. Thank you!

  • Isa Marrs

    Hi Pauline,
    It sounds like your daughter would benefit from feeding therapy to help desensitize her to new foods/colors/textures. If you tell me where you live I can look for a program in your area.

  • briana

    My 4 year old daughter is meets the definition of a resistant eater to a T. She eats about 15 different foods at the moment but she refuses to try any form of vegetable or meat product (with the exception of chicken nuggets and only 1 brand at that). I am located in Worcester, MA and I am having a very hard time finding a form of feeding therapy in my area. Is there anyone that you know of in Mass that offers these services? This has been an ongoing problem for as long as I can remember and it is only getting worse. She has begun eliminating foods from her diet and will absolutely not try anything new. The few times she has tried in the past she has gagged to the point of vomiting. please help! :(

  • Isa Marrs

    Hi Heather,
    I only have one feeding clinic on my list in WI. I am not exactly sure where it is located. It is Childern’s Hospital of Wisconsin Wal-Mart/Sam’s Club Feeding, Swallowing, and Nutrition Center. If this is no where near you I do suggest calling a local hospital and talking to their speech language pathology department. Let me know if you are able to locate a feeding therapist so I can add them to my list! Good Luck!

  • Isa Marrs

    Hi Briana,
    I have 3 centers on my list in MA. I am not sure if they are located near you or not. If not they can probably refer you to someone closer. The centers are New England Center for Children, Braintree Rehabilitation Hospital at Taunton, and U. of Mass Memorial Medical Center, Pediatric Feeding Clinic. Let us know how it goes and if you find anyone.

  • Megan

    Do you know of any good feeding therapists in Seattle? My 8 year old is a selective eater, fairly good with fruits and veggies but doesn’t eat enough protein as he’ll eat no meat or eggs, rarely cheese and rarely beans and rice. We are looking for a gentle and respectful approach, not a bribing with stickers approach as we don’t use rewards and punishments in our family.

  • Isa Marrs

    I am not sure of their approach but Seattle Children’s Hospital has a feeding clinic.

  • Heather Fernandes

    Hi briana,
    I, like so many of the other parents I’ve seen on here, am struggling with getting my almost 6 year old to eat. His lunch and dinner diet consists of chicken nuggets, grilled cheese or pizza. He fits so much of the definition of a resistant eater. I’ve tried bringing this to the attention of his pediatrician on numerous occasions but I feel like she believes he is just picky, my gut however says it is beyond that. He also gags to the point of vomiting when attempts to try a new food. He has also openly expressed being afraid to try new foods. I feel it’s All in his head but I want more than anything to help him. I’m located in CT, any doctors that you can recommend I would be so grateful.
    Thank you so much
    Heather

  • daniel kloss

    Hi Isa! I have a 12 year old son who has many of the symptoms of resistant eating. Gagging/vomiting food he doesn’t like or approve. Please give me information for any center in iowa. Thank you !

  • Isa Marrs

    Hi Heather,
    Where in CT do you live? Our office is not too far from CT. Feel free to contact me to discuss options.
    (914) 488-5282

  • Isa Marrs

    I know of 3 places in Iowa that provide feeding services. They are University of Iowa Childrens Hospital (Pediatric Psychology), The Department of Education of Iowa Heartland Pediatric Feeding Disorders Services, and Floyd Valley Hospital, Pediatric Feeding Clinic (Avera).
    Good luck!

  • Heather Fernandes

    I live in the beacon falls area

  • Kayleigh Ann Trinh

    Hi Isa, my 2 year old daughter fits the description of a resistant eater. She mostly only eats fruit, absolutely no meat, some starchy foods. She also likes junk food like chips and cookies. But anytime I try to give her something nutritious or anything new, she screams “no!” And will have fits. She hits me or the food and wants nothing to do with anything I offer her. Or after 2 or 3 bites, she’s done and wants nothing to do with food anymore. I had no idea where to start with this problem and your article came up on Google. Do you know of any feeding clinics or doctors that can help me figure out what the problem is? I live in Anaheim, ca. I wanted input from a feeding specialist. Her doctors don’t seem to think there’s a problem but I really feel that there is. She was already born small at 5lbs, she’s now 26 months and barely weighs 20 lbs. she hasn’t gained weight for months. Mealtimes are dreadful for everyone here. I appreciate any help you can give us, thanks!

  • Isa Marrs

    I am not sure how far you are from Hartford but the Conneticut Children’s Medical Center has a feeding team.

  • Isa Marrs

    I agree that you definitely need some guidance to make sure that you can help move your daughter in the right direction. Children’s Hospital of Orange County (CHOC) has a feeding team.

  • Isa Marrs

    How long did you work with this therapist? Feeding therapy can often be a long,slow process.

  • Kim Forsman

    8 months first go around 6 next and 3 months next time. She said felt bad me paying for it when no gains or strides. She was thinking has to do with bowel issues . Which it probably is some of problem. But it is getting to point where he will start shaking . He says “I am shaky mommy shaky” think blood sugar drops.

  • Isa Marrs

    In 8 months time they should have made some gains even if they are really small. She might not be the right fit for the type of therapy your son needs. What are you doing to deal with the constipation?

  • Isa Marrs

    My email is isamarrs@speechlanguagefeeding.com. My assistant can set you up for a long distance consultation.

  • Isa Marrs

    I do recommend working with someone. Where do you live?

  • Isa Marrs

    Unfortunately I do not know of any feeding clinics in Utah. I do offer long distance consults if you would like to talk more.

  • Isa Marrs

    Are you seeing a Pediatric GI?

  • Isa Marrs

    Unfortunately I do not have information on hypnosis or an opinion. Are you near Pittsburg? The Children’s Institute of Pittsburg has a feeding program.

  • Isa Marrs

    You must be very nervous and I am sure he is very anxious. Has he ever seen anyone who directly works with him on feeding? Unfortunately I do not know of any clinics in Detroit. I am available for long distance consults if you are interested.

  • Isa Marrs

    The California Pacific Medical Center, Kalmanovitz Pediatric Development Center Feeding Disorders Clinic may be near you?

  • Isa Marrs

    Where do you live?

  • Isa Marrs

    Hi Karen,
    It definitely seems like you need the guidance of a professional.Does your SLP have any knowledge of feeding?

  • Whitney

    Hi, My son turned 5 in May this past month. I have stayed home with him since his birth. He had severe acid reflux and a milk-protein allergy until just after his first birthday. He has been going to see a speech therapist since he was three years old, he still has therapy twice a week. In September, he will go to kindergarten. He eats only a handful of things. Mac and Cheese. Ramen Noodles, Pasta and Butter, and certain Chicken Nuggets, Ritz, and certain cookies, and fruit loops – sometimes he will eat a Eggo waffle. He recently started eating grapes, but I have to peel them. He will notice the slightest speck in his food, if at a restaurant and the server brings pasta with a speck of pepper or green garnishes, he will refuse to eat. Certain smells at restaurants he complains about the smell of the food and will gag. In preschool, they have a snack time and he will only eat if someone brings Ritz crackers for snack day. After watching a 2 year old devour grilled chicken and vegetables and fruit, I made him sit down and try grilled chicken. He cried and cried, and Anything new he will gag and will throw up. I’m worried. I’m worried about what he will eat in kindergarten and I hate to think he will be hungry all day. The speech therapist said he has an oral sensory delay, but I’m not sure what that means or how to go about it. We live in upstate, New York.

  • Isa Marrs

    Where in NY are you?

  • Isa Marrs

    No sorry. I do not.

  • Isa Marrs

    I am sorry to say that I do not have any contacts in the UK. I do offer long distance phone consultations if you are interested.

  • Isa Marrs

    I only know of one clinic in TN and I am not sure if it is near Memphis. The name is LeBonheur Children’s Hospital. Good luck!

  • Isa Marrs

    Hi Ramona, I only know of 2 places in Houston but nothing in Dallas. You can try to contact the hospitals in Dallas and ask them if they have any therapists who work with feeding. Good luck!

  • Kelly Kornspan

    Hi, I am desperate and incredibly discouraged. My 2 year old son only eats baby food (mostly fruits), yogurt and cookies. Nothing else. He refuses to even try any other table food, not even goldfish, Cheerios, etc. We have recently been advised my a child psychiatrist to remove the baby food and offer him table food. The theory was that he would begin to eat table food once the baby food was no longer an option. Well he’s going on day 5 with no real substance. Just juice, yogurt and animal crackers. He refused everything else . I’m very concerned and have no idea what to do. Please please help. I’m afraid he’s going to burn out on the yogurt and cookies and then eat literally nothing. I’m going to try to get him to drink Carnation shakes but not sure how that’s going to go either. What do I do?!! He did have horrible GERD as an infant that required seeing a specialist, medication and special formula. Not sure if that related but something has to change quick. We live in Orlando, FL . Can you recommend help for my little man, please!

  • Isa Marrs

    Hi Kelly, I hope your son has begun eating over the last few days. The approach recommended to you is risky and I do not agree with it! Unfortunately I do not have any feeding center recommendations in your area. If you are interested in speaking you can contact my office.

  • Isa Marrs

    Hi Jennifer,
    I was so happy to hear that your doctor listened to you and sent you for an evaluation. Seattle Children’s Hospital has a Growth and Feeding Dynamics Clinic. Maybe they can offer you some more guidance.

  • Isa Marrs

    Unfortunately I do not know of any feeding centers in Michigan. Sometimes hospitals will provide this type of therapy so you may want to call them for help. If they don’t they may be able to guide you to someone who does.

  • Isa Marrs

    Where do you live? Maybe I can help you find a feeding clinic. You can also call the hospitals in your area. If you have a pediatric hospital that would be even better!

  • Isa Marrs

    Hi Beth, It sounds like your son is extremely picky and depending on how you deal with it, it can resolve or it can snow ball. So I do suggest that you seek some guidance to make sure you make good decisions in regards to his eating.