Children's Health

Chew on These 7 Possible Reasons Children Refuses To Eat

Kids can be very fussy when it comes to mealtime, and this is a never-ending source of frustration for countless parents across the country. However, there are factors involved – sometimes more than one factor – that can lead to your kid turning up their nose at what you’ve prepared for them.

This can be stressful for parents who believe their child will be undernourished or underdeveloped due to their lack of food intake. While a doctor or pediatrician can help make recommendations whether a medical intervention is required, here are seven things to consider that might make mealtime go smoother in the future…

1. Lack of Routine

Developing a schedule of when your kids eat is important in prompting them to dig in, according to YourKidsTable.com. “This can be a touchy subject for parents, we all have our comfortable eating habits and routines that we have already established for ourselves as adults,” notes the source.

That means you may not be following an eating pattern that benefits your child. “We often continue to do what is comfortable for us with our kids, but it isn’t always what leads us to teaching them habits that we really want them to have,” it adds. The source also explains that a lack of willingness to try new foods can partially come down to lack of routine as well.

2. Tongue Tie

RealFoodWithKids.com calls this a “hidden cause of children’s eating difficulties,” noting a tongue tie is often overlooked and misdiagnosed. The source explains a tongue tie can cause your child to gag on food, spit up, have an aversion to solids or certain textures, or only eat small amounts at a time.

The article explains there are actually 4-types of tongue ties, with 2-of them involving a narrow strip of skin connecting the tip of the tongue to the floor of the mouth. However, the others are less obvious – a strip of skin connecting the back of the tongue, and another where the frenulum (the proper name for the membrane connecting the tongue and the mouth floor) is not visible.

3. Too Much Fluids

If your child doesn’t seem to be that interested in eating solid foods, it could be because you’re making that step easy for them to skip without realizing it. The Scope (University of Utah) published an article that explains some parents have a habit of offering their kids snacks all day long, curbing their hunger for more substantial meals.

However, the bigger culprit is milk, it explains. “Milk contains as many calories as most solid foods,” it notes. So while it may seem like your toddler is just having a few sips to stay hydrated, they are more or less drinking a meal. Try to limit milk consumption to 16-ounces per day, suggests the university. Offer water instead of milk or juice between meals.

4. Natural Decrease in Appetite

You may be alarmed because your child went from what seemed to be endless feeding to almost nothing – and this, for the most part, is normal, according to Livestrong.com. The source explains the first year of a child’s life is marked by rapid growth, fueled by high food consumption.

However, growth rate slows at 18-months, meaning your child’s appetite will wane with it. This can be a red flag to parents who think their child is sick, or there’s another problem. As preschoolers, their appetite will spike a few times a year during growth spurts, it adds.

5. Sensory Processing Disorder

VeryWell.com says if your toddler only likes one or 2-types of food textures, or refers to any foods wetter than a cracker as “slimy,” they may have what’s known as a sensory processing disorder, which makes it difficult for their brains to sort out sensory information collected through the body.

“In practice, these children may gag if forced to eat food with the problematic texture, and they’ll likely refuse it if they can,” it notes. This problem can be identified beyond eating – they may not like to be touched or they may be overly annoyed by tags in their clothing, explains the source.

6. Dysphagia

This is a general term for feeding and swallowing disorders, and could apply to your child. There could be difficulties at various stages of the swallowing process: the oral phase (sucking, chewing), the Pharyngeal phase (starting to swallow), or the Esophageal phase (which includes squeezing food down into the stomach), explains the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.

Noticeable symptoms of feeding/swallowing disorders in children include stiffening of their body during feeding, irritability during feeding, coughing or gagging during mealtime, excessive drooling, frequent spit-ups, and frequent respiratory infections, adds the source.

7. Constipation

Listed among medical reasons for not eating, YourKidsTable.com includes constipation as a possible reason for your child not accepting food. It comes down to managing their fiber intake and making sure they get enough grains, fruits and vegetables (even popcorn is a good source).

The source notes if your kid is “backed up,” it will affect their appetite. “Managing your child’s constipation can be a huge game changer in helping them eat new foods,” adds the source. The same source offers a more comprehensive explanation of ways to help deal with your kid’s constipation.

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