1. Your kiddo is "stuck" on one texture of food, whether that be purees, semi-solids, etc., they just don't seem to be able to progress.
This is a sign that something is going on with either your child's physical or sensory abilities. Many children struggle to the introduction of "mixed textures" and tend to get stuck on "purees/smooth" textures. This occurs often when parents/caregivers stop exposing their child to other textures as they are nervous by the child's initial reaction.
2. There is a limited variety of foods at your kiddos mealtimes.
They are open to eating ONLY certain types of foods, usually those that they are comfortable with. These foods are typically processed, bland, and "brownish" coloured foods, with minimal (if any) foods in the vegetable/fruit categories.
3. They gag (daily), vomit, cough excessively, or arch their backs during mealtimes and feeding.
After the age of 7 months when teeth start to emerge and our oral motor skills are improving, the gag reflex starts to integrate into our system and moves further back on our tongues. Gagging is important and one of our bodies "safety mechanisms", although if your child is gagging at every feed/meal or daily, this is repetitive negative associations being made with food/eating that can lead to "food aversions". Please contact a professional asap if your child is experiencing this.
4. Your child is taking longer than 20 minutes for breakfast/lunch and longer than 30 minutes to finish dinner.
If everyone at the table is finishing their meals and your child is taking much longer to finish feeding you may want to consult a Feeding Therapist to investigate the cause - especially if this increased time is disrupting your families other routines.
5. They aren't meeting their developmental milestones for feeding.
For example for "typically" developing children:
By 12-18 months, kids typically hold their own spoon, scoop food, and put the spoon in mouth without much spillage.
By 18-24 months, kiddos are using a fork and drink from an open cup.
By age 2-3 years, kiddos typically are able to suck through a straw & hold a small cup with one hand.
6. They have meltdowns before or during mealtimes.
If you notice your child is frequently avoiding mealtimes at all costs, it's time to investigate what is going on and get to the root of their meltdowns.
7. They need to have their face or hands cleaned immediately after getting a bit of food on them.
This is a sign of sensory aversion. We want kids to get messy and tolerate the mess on their bodies as this helps their sensory system adjust to this type input and to prevent food aversions/oral aversions (where they can't tolerate a variety of foods, textures etc.).
8. They are rigid about how food is served to them.
Do they always have to have the same brand/packaging for foods or else they won't eat it? Will they only eat foods in one form? E.g.- They will eat mashed potatoes but not hash browns. Will they only eat from one plate, or use a certain spoon?
9. You have become a "short-order" cook for your little one.
If you are constantly making different meals for your child than what the rest of your family is eating, you have become a "short-order" cook. This a lot of work and extra stress on you!
It definitely doesn't have to be this way and to be frank, if it continues it will get worse not better. Please reach out if your unsure how to get away from this.
10. Your child barely eats dinner, but wants a snack right after.
This is something very common we hear from our families. This one can be reversed fairly quickly, it comes down to consistency and setting boundaries/expectations around mealtimes with your kiddo.
We hope this was helpful and provided some insight into some of the "red flags" to be aware of. If you have noticed any of these signs, please reach out to your child's paediatrician, your trusted health care professional or our Intuitive Feeding team to discuss if a feeding therapy consult may be beneficial for your child. Early identification and intervention is key to preventing or reversing feeding concerns.
With love and kindness,
Stephanie MSc. O.T., B.Kin.