Most kids will do this occasionally, but for some it is a way of life.
Reasons Why Children Won’t Eat
Although this may seem like the most obvious reason kids don’t eat, it is often the most overlooked. Well, at least it isn’t always explored deeply enough. When kids have a well documented medical condition or are visibly sick, it is obvious that their eating can be affected, but sometimes there are more subtle issues. Two of the biggest culprits are acid reflex and constipation. Both of these very common problems for kids can put a halt to eating.
For many “picky eaters” sensory processing plays a big role in their refusal to eat foods. Simply put, if something feels gross in their mouth or on their hands, they aren’t going to eat it. The fancy therapeutic term we give for when a child doesn’t want to touch different textures is is tactile defensive. And, when they don’t like certain textures in their mouth, or chew/bite/lick everything else but food it is a sign that their oral sensory system needs some help.
This one might be a little tricky for parents to figure out because you need to consider how well your child is chewing and swallowing their food. Therapists call this oral-motor skills. You can probably rule this out if you have a child over 2.5 that safely and easily transitioned onto table foods as babies. Signs that your child may not be chewing well are: choking/gagging after the food is already in their mouth for a few seconds/minutes, spitting out half chewed food, or throwing up food that looks like it has hardly been chewed. They also may have had difficulty breastfeeding.
What do I mean by routine exactly? Well, I strongly believe that structure and routine around food and meal time is critical to kids eating well. I know there are a few kids out there that will manage to eat well with the lack thereof, but by in large most kids eating habits will suffer greatly without a regular routine.
I put behavior at the end of this list for a reason. I want this to be the last thing that you consider. A lot of people advise parents that kids are being “bad” or that the reason they are refusing to eat well is behavior based. Although, behavior plays a role, it is actually a small percentage of kids that actually refuse to eat based solely on behavior.