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Kids who are stubborn with food may be more than just ‘picky eaters’

If you’re having trouble getting your child to eat, it might not just be because they are “picky eaters,” according to a local expert.

“I think the first that people think about when their child if having feeding difficulties is, ‘Oh, my child is a picky eater’ or, ‘They don’t eat their vegetables,’” said Ramya Kumar, a speech language pathologist and feeding therapist with Banner Health.

“It can be that, but we’re also looking at more extreme things,” such as difficulty swallowing, she said. “Babies that are choking every time they’re bottle-feeding or breast-feeding.”

Some children who will only eat specific foods, such as chicken nuggets from a specific brand, may have difficulty with certain textures in their mouth, Kumar said.

If that is the case, Kumar said parents should encourage their children to eat their food but should approach it in a more sensitive way.

Parents should also pair foods that their child is less fond of with foods that they do like to make it easier for them to eat.

Kumar suggested that parents let the “fun” extend to grocery shopping and food prep so their kid has more time to interact with the different tastes, colors and smells of new foods.

“So those are all activities that can be incorporated into feeding,” she said.

But if parents are seeing extremes like constant gagging or meltdowns, they should not be afraid to consult the child’s doctor, Kumar said.

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