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Feeding Therapy: Winning the Battle with your "Picky Eater."

Updated: Apr 24, 2018

Is your child a "picky" eater? Is mealtime difficult? Do you dread the idea of preparing a new meal for dinner? Are you tired of bargaining with your child get him/her to eat? Do you feel defeated regarding your child's diet? Do you avoid going to restaurants because of your child's behavior? Are you a short-order cook, preparing more than one meal to suit everyone in the family?

There is a solution...........Feeding Therapy.

My name Is Heather Gotthelf and I am a Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP). I have helped hundreds of children and parents win the battle when it comes to eating. I'm not only an SLP, but I'm also a parent. I know at times, THE STRUGGLE IS REAL!

Helping families with feeding issues is truly my passion to address as a Speech-Language Pathologist. I know that this can be a challenging path to attempt, but I promise that training and encouraging your child to try new foods and expand their diet will help in the future. I'm sure it would be embarrassing as an adult to eat a limited number of foods simply because they are scared to try something new or different. Don't let your child become that adult - the power of change is in your hands. You just have to be persistent and stand your ground until you see the expected results.

You deserve the freedom to enjoy a stress-free meal with your family, while your child eats a diet that is age-appropriate. Take those parental training wheels off and let it ride! I'm not talking about a two-year-old chowing down on escargot and slurping up crab bisque. I'm referring to the child only eating a limited number of foods in his diet. Not only is this unhealthy, but it also creates negative habits that are much more difficult to break as they get older and starts to form an opinion about their desired foods. The causes for a limited number of foods can vary; sometimes it a texture issue, sometimes it is a behavioral issue, and sometimes it's because he is just plain scared to try something new. Sometimes, it's the parents fault. Yes, some parents are simply losing the battle. A licensed SLP who specializes in feeding therapy can help to identify these challenges, demonstrate strategies to help regain your freedom as a parent, provide a stress-free environment during mealtimes and win the battle.

Feeding issues are not limited to children with development disabilities, in fact there are many normally developed children with feeding problems.

According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI): “Feeding problems are common in children. Approximately 20-50% of normally developing children,1-7 and 70-89% of children with developmental disabilities,8-10 are reported to experience some type of feeding problems. However, determining the prevalence of feeding problems may be complicated since there is no universally accepted definition or classification system.

Children with feeding problems were fed less frequently, were less likely to be fed at their own table or at the family table, and had mealtimes longer than 30 min when compared with children without feeding problems (P=0.015, 0.004 and 0.025, respectively). The results highlight that feeding problems in normally developing children are common.”

Let those numbers sink in for a minute…20-50% of normally developing children and 70-89% of children with developmental disabilities!!! That’s an epidemic but it can be treated and feeding therapists are here to help you and your child!

Red Flags to Seek a Feeding Evaluation:

1. Behavior problems during mealtime (i.e., throwing food, crying, screaming, spitting out food).

2. Your child eats a limited number of foods (less than 15).

3. Your child only eats (or avoids) foods with a certain texture (crunchy) or color (white/brown).

4. Concern regarding weight loss or decrease in BMI due to limited number of foods.

5. Concern regarding weight gain due to eating only junk foods.

If you have a picky eater or are ready to win the battle at meal time, contact your local speech pathologist. If you are local to the Auburn area, feel free to contact us at or call our office to schedule a feeding evaluation.

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