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Extreme Picky Eating – a Q&A with Jenny McGlothlin

Jenny: Hi! I’m Jenny McGlothlin, a Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP) specializing in the evaluation and treatment of infants, children, and adolescents with feeding disorders and extreme picky eating. I’ve been working in this area of specialty for 17 years- since I was in graduate school.

It’s a niche, so not every SLP treats feeding problems, and within the group who does, not all work with infants. I run a group feeding program at the University of Texas at Dallas Callier Center for children aged 2-5 and see individual patients of all ages as well.

Due to my work with newborns and my previous experience as a nursing mother, I became a Certified Lactation Counsellor this past year, which has been a great addition.

I live in Dallas, Texas with my husband, three children (11.5, almost 9, and 5 years old- boy boy girl), and our rescue dog Baxter.

I co-authored the book Helping Your Child with Extreme Picky Eating (published in May 2015) with my friend and colleague Dr. Katja Rowell, who specializes in childhood feeding problems.

We found that we were both working individually with families in our practice but were passionate about sharing the information with a wider audience, and when we were approached by our publisher about writing a book, we jumped at the chance!

Our next book, Conquer Picky Eating: A Workbook for Teens and Adults, should be available for pre-order on Amazon in the next couple of weeks!


Q: Jenny, can you explain a bit more about what extreme picking eating is? How is it different from food fads that most children have at some time or another?

Jenny: Yes! We define extreme picky eating (EPE) as not eating enough quantity or variety to support healthy emotional, physical, or social development; or eating patterns that are a significant source of conflict or worry.

It is different from typical picky eating in that the reactions to food/mealtimes are more extreme. Are they upset or crying often around food? Feel bad about his eating? Have documented nutritional deficiencies? Falling off her growth curve? Poor energy and/or meltdowns when hungry? Can’t go to sleepovers or social gatherings? Isolates herself due to her limited menu? Teased by peers or other adults about eating?

PSG A: And over what period of time would you expect to see these behaviours to make this diagnosis?

Jenny: Typical picky eating begins around 16 months of age (approx) and can continue until age 5-ish. This is due to Food Neophobia, which is a normal reaction in childhood to novel foods. We can make this diagnosis at any time if the situation varies from what we see as typical.

PSG B: Is it possible for a child to go through this entire time period eating this way? It’s exhausting after 2 years!

Jenny:  Yes, but it may be that your child is more on the selective side. There is a lot of variability within “typical” picky eating as well. Some kids are picky for just a bit and others hold on to it for much longer and then begin expanding their choices in elementary school.

PSG C: What age is elementary school please?

Jenny: 5.5 through 11 ish.

Q: Does your research suggest that there’s a real difference between faddy eating and EPE, or is there a continuum?

Jenny: Yes, there is a big difference, but typical picky eating and extreme picky eating can have their own continuum within those headings.

Q: How do you know when you’ve gone beyond ‘normal’ toddler picky phase and into something more serious?

Jenny: By paying attention to your child’s reactions and intake over time.

Typical children’s intake is wildly unpredictable and they may eat very differently from day to day or month to month. If they are able to eat enough food to grow and are happy and healthy and you aren’t experiencing severe conflict around food, it may be typical picky eating.

Q:  Is there a ‘safe’ age to know when you’ve got past picky eating? My husband has undiagnosed SED, and of course I am hyperaware of any picky eating in my kids. They are picky but I don’t think unusually so.

Jenny: While there are many teenagers and adults living with SED, most kids grow out of it around age 6 or so, or begin to expand their diets slowly but surely. It is more about attitude around food than an age or number of accepted foods.

Q:  Does extreme picky eating has to be treated by a certain age? Are you aware of methods or treatments that can help teens/adults?

Jenny: Well, we know that there are many adults who struggle with this, but we also know that pickiness in childhood is LESS predictive of adult eating behaviours than HOW MUCH a child was pressured to eat as a child.

Jenny: We are about to publish our book Conquer Picky Eating, a self-help workbook for teens and adults 🙂

Q: How do you treat excessive picky eating and does it differ with the age of the child?

Jenny: The main theoretical approach is the same. Responsive Feeding:

Mealtime guidance that depends upon the feeder’s ability to read the eater’s cues in order to make the meal manageable, enjoyable and successful for the eater, while retaining developmentally appropriate structure and expectations. It is not fully child-led or fully adult-directed, but an ever-evolving dance between the two.

Our book lays out in steps how to go about ‘treating’ the picky eating, but it is more about improving a child’s relationship with food and their attitude at the table. Reducing anxiety is a huge part of this!

Q: Are there any areas of preventing/assessing/treating picky eating/SED/ARFID that you would like there to be more research evidence on? For example, Is the current evidence base & treatment approaches effective enough?

Jenny: It’s never enough 😉

PSG A: What would be top of your list to research if you could do anything?

Jenny: There is a recent prospective study that are looking at the method that I use (with some caveats), and it is promising: Role Reversal Method for Treatment of Food Refusal Associated With Infantile Feeding Disorders

The ‘evidence’ in the behaviour analyst camp is very weak (mostly single subject design) and there are no long-term outcomes. Much of the research that we depend upon is ancillary, but there are some nice studies that look at pressure and responsive feeding practices

“You will eat all of that!”: a retrospective analysis of forced consumption episodes.

Responsive Feeding Is Embedded in a Theoretical Framework of Responsive Parenting

Q: My little one (almost 2 Yrs old) will only eat from a range of about 10 items. Thankfully the items do cross the key food groups but they literally only eat from these items. Do you have any tried and tested ways of introducing further items to such a diet? My little one shows interest when I’m cooking but categorically will not try any new foods (unless they involve chocolate!!!) Thank you.

Jenny: I love introducing a lettuce knife to little ones to help cut foods in the kitchen if they are interested! The best way to do this is to set her up and then just ‘ignore’ her. Are you following the Division of Responsiblity in feeding?

PSG K: What is the Division of Responsibility in feeding??

We bought my little one a toy kitchen and he loves to chop the pretend food. He also is really curious when I cook so maybe I need to move onto letting him chop up the real food…

Jenny: Here is a good introduction to Division of Responsibility:

Our book is based on this basic principle, and then expands on it to make the steps easier to follow for parents. Children under age 3 haven’t developed fully adult oral motor skills yet, so some foods may be too difficult for your child to manage– which may make his confidence low. Do you feel like he manages a wide range of textures?

PSG K: Thanks for this. It’s already helpful!

Texture-wise he’s not bad, but he doesn’t eat any meat so doesn’t have much experience with harder-to-chew foods.

Jenny: Those can be the toughest 🙂 He may be still learning how to chew those foods and so may put them in, take them out , suck on them, etc.

PSG K: Or turn his back on them as he currently does!!!! There’s no way (at present!) he would put any meat in his mouth. I’ll get your book and see what I can try from there. I’m adamant that we don’t make mealtimes an issue.

Jenny: “A child and their family have a feeding problem; they experience this journey together. It is more inclusive to consider this issue in the context of the child’s natural environment with the people who are most familiar and invested. A shared conceptualization that families can relate to (without perceived stigma) and that providers could use to classify pediatric feeding problems would improve potential for early feeding assessment, referral, and for feeding intervention efficacy to last long term. “

-Estrem, et. al, 2016

Q: About six months ago I started demanding a “no thank you” bite of food. Do you think that this could be harmful, and should I revert to my if you don’t want to try it you don’t have to?

Jenny: I don’t recommend it. It can backfire with the child taking the bite because they have to but the anxiety can keep them from really experiencing it = they don’t learn to ‘like’ it, just tolerate it. But they remember being made to try it…

PSG D: Right, thanks I will stop it then.

Q: My 4 year old daughter probably would eat 100’s of different snack/junk food options. But struggles with ‘normal’ meals and mixed foods/foods touching etc. Would you class this as extreme?

Jenny: Probably not ‘extreme’, but definitely problematic for your family! Do you feel like she has sensory issues? Likes crunchy foods, sweet foods, strongly flavored/salty foods?

PSG F: Texture/sweet/salt/strong don’t seem to be factors. Only other sensory thing is clothing. Looking at the other comments, there are people with more complex problems than me! Ill make sure I pick up some hints/tips and an idea of where to go next from your other replies.

Q: My son is 7yo and is still a picky eater (as is his sister at 5yo). At this age, is it something I should be concerned about?

I would say that they are typical picky eaters, but my husband basically survives on white bread / baked goods and fries (that’s not an exaggeration, although he does eat some fruit). So I find myself worrying that they are following in his footsteps (although they eat a wider range of food than he does!).

Jenny: We find that it definitely can run in families, and it may be worth it to look at them from a sensory preferences standpoint. Can your husband articulate why he sticks with those foods?

Are they upset or crying often around food? Feel bad about their eating? Have documented nutritional deficiencies? Falling off their growth curves? Have poor energy and/or meltdowns when hungry? Can’t go to sleepovers or social gatherings? Isolates themselves due to their limited menus? Teased by peers or adults about eating?

PSG H: It’s definitely sensory, I would say. My husband says it’s particular textures that he doesn’t like (and has been physically sick due to textures in the past).

And I would say no to all of those that you’ve mentioned above, I haven’t got any worries in those respects (which is why I haven’t been particularly worried about it before now).

Q: My son massively reduced his diet at 11m and is now 5yrs. He doesn’t have anywhere near a balanced diet – no veg or meat, very limited fruit.

We have tried to not make food an issue and have safe food available, but if anything the number of foods he will eat has reduced. He now enters full on panic mode if asked to even try a food he doesn’t know or doesn’t think he likes. We have tried the doctors but got sent away. Would this be classed as extreme and where do we go from here?

Jenny: He sounds like the kind of child that we discuss in our book 🙂

You will find some helpful information in there about anxiety and how to deal with mealtimes. The anxiety is real and can be very debilitating.

PSG I: Yes, its very clear the anxiety is real, and we ask him to try but also tell him he doesn’t have to. I remember the feeling of being forced to eat something I hated and physically not being able to swallow, and I am keen for him not to feel that. I hate it when he’s upset but I also am very worried about his eating.

Jenny: Just the asking may be feeling like too much pressure- he knows he will disappoint you if he can’t do it 🙁

Jenny: “Happiness is the most important factor at mealtimes and in therapy programs to help children develop feeding skills. Unhappiness gets in the way of helping children move toward their most comfortable and skilful relationship with food and liquid.”

–Suzanne Evans Morris, PhD

PSG I: You’re right about the asking, I disappoint myself doing it but get desperate at times. What if its not possible for meal times to be happy because it isn’t what he wants.

Jenny: Don’t worry- I know!! We provide lots of scripts in the book to deal with this situation. Always having 1-2 safe foods on the table that he could fill up on reduces the panic. But having someone ask him to try something before he is ready may make him less likely to actually be interested. When we take away ALL of the pressure, then curiosity and interest can blossom.

PSG I: We have been trying to follow the Division of Responsibility method and safe foods for a couple of years now and my worry is if anything he has retreated into the safe foods more and is less curious. I guess we need to just keep going and hope one day it will come. I’m very interested to read your book.

Q: Our approach follows also DOR (division of responsibility), and we serve buffet style, always with at least one safe food – would you say this is a good approach to use or would you recommend other approaches?

Neither of them eat meat or veg, and my daughter won’t eat much fruit either. I’m aware that neither of them eat a balanced diet but I don’t want to use praise / punishment / coercion as I’m well aware that they often lead to a whole other set of difficulties.

Jenny: Yes! This is my approach. Kids eat for two reasons: HUNGER and PLEASURE. They don’t care about ‘nutrition’. 🙂

“Whether in conditions of hunger or satiety, food intake can be influenced by the pleasurable effects of food. Thus, the joy of eating can arise not only from the fulfilment of a vital physiological need but also from the sheer gratification derived from savouring appetizing foods. The word pleasure often refers to a complex experience that involves emotions such as happiness, enjoyment and satisfaction that are difficult to evaluate in the study of non-human animals.”

(Fulton, 2010)

Q: Are there strategies which work well for children with a visual impairment? My son (age 3) has Down’s Syndrome and sensory/particularly texture issues around food. But he also has CVI (Cortical Visual Impairment). I think the visual problem really intensifies his lack of confidence around new foods. He likes it when we name/sign his foods on his plate. I would welcome any pointers.

Jenny: It sure does! Vision is the first way we access our foods and deem them safe. He can’t familiarize himself with the food visually so it makes it harder to recognize what he is about to put in his mouth. Allowing him to touch everything for as long as he needs to may help. Also, asking him if he wants to smell the food.

Q: For children whose extremely limited diet seems related to texture and sensory issues, what kind of strategies can be useful to help them expand their diet? Or is it a matter of hoping they grow out of it eventually?

Jenny: I love giving kids opportunities to interact with food without any pressure to eat it. That is the key- they need to know that you don’t WANT them to or care if they eat it. There are some good ideas here:

Also, food chaining is a great way to bridge from what they enjoy from a sensory preference standpoint to new foods. Try this:

PSG A: Jenny – I love the idea of the sensory bin! How nice to just remove food from the eating situation. Is there research that confirms that playing with food in this way may make it more likely for children to eat a wider range of foods?

Jenny: Not that I know of, but plenty of research showing that pressure makes kids eat less. And that increased familiarity/exposure makes foods more likely to be accepted.

Q: I have a 9 yr old boy with severe sensory issues with food. Will only tolerate hard crunchy textures and gags if anyone near him has anything soft. His sister has the opposite problem that she can only tolerate soft textures. I’m struggling to get enough nutrition into them and to have any sort of family meal!

Jenny: Man, that is challenging! Sounds like he is a sensory seeker and she is a sensory avoider or perhaps doesn’t have great oral motor skills? Have either of them been evaluated for oral motor issues?

PSG M: We have used sensory bins etc and worked with OTs but the problem seems to be getting worse so that he will only eat on his own.  We are on a waiting list, but by time we get to OT his other needs take over. The dietician is of little help – telling us to let him go hungry. He’s very underweight and gets ill easily.

Jenny: Well for goodness sake, don’t do that 🙂

PSG M:  Oh don’t worry, we don’t! Most ridiculous “advice” I’d ever heard.

Jenny: There are many reasons for kids not to eat well, and anxiety is a big one. If he is struggling with being around food, it may be setting him up for failure.

PSG M: So do we just remove him every time he needs to eat? He wants so badly to be able to eat with his friends and at parties but just can’t.

Jenny: I wonder if working on anxiety (not about food, but just coping strategies) with a therapist would help. He may be feeling anxious about it and thinking someone is going to ask him to eat it?

PSG M:  We are working on anxiety in general which is quite high. We have a strict policy that he is never forced to try a new food but if he chooses to have it near him or touch it, heavily praised and rewarded.

Q: Can certain babies be identified as “at risk” of developing EPE? If so is there any research that looks at early intervention to prevent EPE fully developing?

Jenny: It tends to run in families, and we know that babies with slower sucking patterns were found to have higher risk of having EPE.

At 12 months of age, children who were more exuberant about new toys were more enthusiastic about new foods as well. Conversely, babies who had more negative reactions to new toys were relatively inhibited around new foods and less interested in partaking.

Moreover, the approach a baby had to new foods at 12 months was a predictor for the baby’s approach to new objects at 18 months, during the toddler years. Here is the reference:

Moding, KJ, Stifter, CA. Does Temperament Underlie Infant Novel Food Responses?: Continuity of Approach–Withdrawal From 6 to 18 Months. Child Development. August 2, 2017. [e-pub ahead of print]

PSG A: Jenny – I’m really interested in the sucking patterns thing. Most babies don’t get their sucking patterns analysed! What would have prompted this to happen in the first place?

Jenny:  Some babies are just naturally not strong feeders. They may be cautious about sucking or may have some immature feeding skills that can cause disorganization or as sense of poor control— this may lead to cautiousness in later eating experiences.

PSG E: This is so helpful, thanks.  My little girl had difficulty sucking because of tongue tie & high arch palate.

Jenny: Yep. Tongue tie can be a big problem.

PSG E: Thanks for the validation ❤️

Jenny: Parents of kids with a feeding disorder often feel personally responsible.  This situation can

  • impact parents’ self-esteem and confidence as a parent
  • increase stress over repeated failed meals
  • add to fear and avoidance of future mealtimes (Greer, 2008)

Sound familiar?

PSG M: Very! Particularly when you are asked why they are losing weight/won’t eat etc.

PSG I: Very, I do keep telling myself we can’t have caused it because by nearly 3 yr eats brilliantly and will try new foods by herself. Doesn’t really make me feel anything better, still feel like I’m failing the older one.

Jenny: No mama, you aren’t. It isn’t your fault. BUT there is a lot you can do to make it better.

Jenny: Here’s a great article for pediatricians! Kerzner, B., K. Milano et al. 2015. A practical approach to classifying and managing feeding difficulties. Pediatrics. 135(2):344-53

Q: Does sending toddlers to nursery always lead to them eating better than at home? Is there any evidence on this?

Jenny: I don’t know of any studies looking at this, but anecdotally, it does seem to work out that way.

PSG E: I find the nursery issue a real dilemma, if it’s “just” pressure that’s stopping a child from eating at home then I can see how nursery would help. But if the child has oral motor issues or sensory issues preventing them from eating then this will be the same at nursery. For sensitive children, temperamentally anxious, then putting them into a strange environment will surely just stress them out more & negatively affect appetite?

Q: We try our best to follow DOR at home with my 5 year old and they did so (mostly) at his daycare. He has a history of severe reflux and lots of anxiety around food and is currently getting new pressure at school to eat his lunch in a certain order and lots of talk about some foods being healthy and others being not healthy. It caused a near total food strike during his second week of school.

I’m wondering how to mitigate all these “moral” messages about food and habits of teachers to expect a different approach to feeding (i.e. eat your sandwich before your carrot muffin) which just shuts down my son. 

Jenny: We love to use our Lunchbox Card. Here are a couple of great articles 🙂

And an interesting article here looking at the Connection between sensitivity (anxiety) and selective eating

Q: My almost-8-year-old has autism (aspergers) & severe anxiety. Since the summer he has developed basically a phobia of fresh tomatoes, most sauces & peas. If he sees them being served (to the others at table, not on his plate), he will cower in the far corner of the room & if you approach him he’ll get distressed to the point of being on the edge of an autistic meltdown. He then won’t eat anything for that meal. If he knows you have touched those foods (even if that was just with your fork, not your fingers), then he will not let you touch him without washing your hands & will be hugely distressed if you touch something else I.e. a toy (his jumper had to get washed as it was ‘contaminated’ this way). It’s now affecting the whole family, and makes eating with others (extended family Christmas dinner with no gravy?!) very tricky.

Help please! What would you advise? We’re fine with him not eating them, but how can the rest of us eat normally.

Jenny: Hmm. Do you know what set off this phobia? Did it come out of nowhere or develop over time?

PSG O: Out of nowhere! He’d never eaten fresh tomatoes, but he’d been fine with others eating them. The peas came slightly later and is not as extreme but heading there. Sauces aren’t even consistent – he loves garlic sauce, & is ok with tinned spaghetti shapes in sauce, but freaks out if I have baked beans in a very similar sauce…

Jenny: I wonder if he can talk about it? Could you ask him to describe what scares him about these foods? I wonder if anyone had pushed him or teased him about making him eat them?

PSG O: He just goes silent when we ask him to explain why. To my knowledge no one has ever made him eat or even try any of them (before or after the phobia). We encourage him to try one bite of new foods, but never force him to if he doesn’t want to. He can be quite enthusiastic about trying certain new things like exotic fruits.

Jenny: Just asking can sometimes become too much…I wonder if working through his anxiety with a therapist would help. Not to get him to like the foods but to be able to cope when he is around them. Just coping strategies.

PSG O: Do you know what help/therapy should be available for him through the NHS and how I access that? Unfortunately we can’t afford to pay privately. Do you have any further suggestions in the meantime? – do we try to all avoid those foods, or eat them but allow him to sit elsewhere, or how?!

Jenny: I’m so sorry- Not sure where you are located or how it works where you are. Can the offending foods be served after he has begun eating for now?

PSG O: Just seeing them puts him off so he then will not eat anything else for that meal. So far our best success has been managing to get him to eat his meal on a stool across the room at the same time. We are in Hertfordshire.

Jenny: Ok. I am not familiar with UK Social Services. But I would ask your doctor for a referral.

Until he can work through what is troubling him, it might be best that he can’t see the foods. Can they be served only on certain days/times so he can sit with the family the rest of the time?

PSG O: Sorry, I forgot you’re not based in the UK!

Yes, we are avoiding them the majority of the time and so still eat all together. But for the times we do eat them, is continuing with him in the room but on a separate stool a distance away from our table the best compromise? Or do you have any different suggestions? Or how to cope with public situations where I can’t control what food is around us (mainly extended family meals)?

Jenny: That’s hard. Maybe sit him at the end of the table away from the foods? Have you tried a social story about it? This article explains how to use them:

PSG O: End of the table sadly doesn’t work 🙁  Haven’t tried a social story yet, in general he doesn’t seem to need them so long as we talk instead. I could try one anyway.

Jenny: Sorry it is so difficult! Some things take lots of trial and error, unfortunately. 😉

PSG O: Thank you

Q: With one picky toddler, are there any strategies you can recommend to try to avoid this situation with my next child? He’s only 4 months old but I’m planning for introducing solids.

Jenny: Our website (and book) has lots of great resources to check out. We recommend serving family style (all food on the table), eating with your children so they can trust food, and not pressuring.

Q: If a child is a selective eater but is just about covering most nutritional bases and not losing weight do you think there is a point in looking for outside help? Or does that highlight the selective eating as more of an issue? 4 yo selective eater here who gets very anxious and upset around food. I follow DOR with him at home but his dad doesn’t.

Jenny: Outside help as far as therapy can be helpful if there are other issues (severe sensory issues or oral motor problems). But most kids like this can be ‘treated’ at home with structure, no pressure, and lots of opportunity to become familiar with food outside of mealtime. Do you feel like dad is pressuring? Are you in the same household or different?

PSG P: Yes, he does have pressure from his dad and we are in the same household. His dad spoon-feeds him, so believes he has many more safe foods than he actually does. I don’t count a food as a safe unless he chooses to put it in his mouth himself. When both parents have very different views then ‘you do it your way and I’ll do it mine’ is pretty unhelpful in this situation. Our son’s biggest problem is anxiety.

Jenny: Here is an article that might be of interest:

Q: Jenny, can I ask about how selective eating runs in families? Has there been research into whether this is due to genetic or behavioural reasons? And how common is it for more than one generation to be affected?

Jenny: I think there has been, but I can’t put my hands on it right now. I know that with the hundreds (thousands?) of families I have worked with, I often hear that at least one of the parents either WAS a selective eater or still is.

PSG L:  Is there any evidence it can be linked to ‘supertasters’ – I had an adult friend who was a very selective eater and only ate very plain things e.g. plain rice and chips. She claimed it was because she was a supertaster!

Jenny: YES! We talk about this in our book. About 25% of people are, and about the same number are NON-tasters- they just don’t care about food…

Q: My nephew (age 6) has a very limited diet, couple choices for breakfast and lunch then only ever toddler meals for dinner (age 1-3 meals). My brother and SIL have tried many things but still he is not able to try anything ‘proper’. The Docs and HVs just say he’s healthy and will grow out of it, but did advise withholding the toddler meals and he’ll eventually eat something. He has hinted at a fear of foods but when asked why he won’t try anything he clams up.

Where can they go from here as they are not getting any support from the professionals?

Jenny: Withholding food is never the answer 🙁 We want children to feel safe and confident at the table and to be able to make choices. I would put the toddler meal out alongside the other family foods on the table (and maybe some of the breakfast/lunch choices so there is something else he can eat) and begin to allow him to familiarize himself with the other foods. They are feeding him those foods separate from the family meal, I would guess!

PSG Q:  They haven’t tried the withholding, no. I will pass on your suggestions thank you. I believe they eat at the table but he has his own meal, his younger brother eats what they eat. What if he always opts for the toddler meal?

Jenny: It can take time. Our book may be a big help to them. It puts it all into easy terms and shows you how to set things up at home.

PSG Q:  Thank you, I will pass all this on.

Q: Can I just go back to the question I asked earlier about tongue tie (I think it got lost in the businesses). In your experience can tongue tie, or structural issues in the mouth lead to EPE? (Sorry if I’m like a dog with a bone with this lol).

Do you think more research in this area would be useful as there seems to be a lack of agreement from professionals on this topic? (ie many dismissing tongue tie as causing difficulties with transitioning to solids).

Jenny: Yes, for sure. If you can’t move your tongue effectively enough to manipulate food safely or comfortable, textures can be hard.

And yes, there is some research on infants, but not on older children with tongue tie. I see it ALL THE TIME.

And yes, the disagreement is generally from folks who only look at the current research but aren’t in the feeding trenches working with these kids 😉

PSG E: Do you have any links?

Jenny: Follow Bobbi Ghaheri on FB and he has a blog…

PSG E: Thanks so much for your time tonight x

Q: How much should we insist on “table manners”?

My son is very very wiggly at the table and will sometimes “crouch” on his chair, wants to bring a toy to the table etc. If I correct that stuff too much he’ll just leave and he doesn’t seem bothered at all by missing out on food as he has very little in the way of a hunger cue. He’s very picky with a history of reflux with a lot of pain and is now 5 yo with food limitations sloooooowly expanding.

Jenny: It may be better just to let it be for now. 🙂 It also sounds like he has some sensory needs or isn’t correctly positioned on his chair- he needs a foot rest/stool. Here is some more information:

Q: I am constantly wondering about baby-led weaning (BLW). I tried BLW with my oral aversion son and looking back I really think he might have had a better chance at food if we’d done more traditional “feeding” which we switched to when it was clear he was just not going to show an interest in food. I know the idea from the BLW community is that BLW avoids pickiness but I feel like that “data” might just be a notion from watching kids that are naturally adventurous with food take to BLW like wild fire.

Jenny: Yep. It is definitely a mixed bag. It doesn’t ‘prevent’ pickiness…

PSG N: Unfortunately due to the BLW info we waited much too long to realise my son was having an issue… I feel very guilty about that in hindsight.

Jenny: Don’t- it isn’t your fault. Hugs!

PSG N: Thanks… it’s an emotional journey. Your book was the first thing that made me feel OK by the way 🙂 I read it multiple times with tears of relief when my 2.5 year would only eat rice crackers… like ONE safe food. Probably time to read it again.

Jenny: Aw, I’m glad you found it. Thanks for sharing!

Thank you Jenny so much for your time today – you have answered a phenomenal number of questions in the most amazing detail (I thought I typed fast….) and given us so much to think about, not to mention a brilliant number of leads about research that we could do.

Thank you so much!

Jenny: I am so happy to help! Please follow us at Extreme Picky Eating Help on Facebook. You can also read our blog for more tips:

If you are after some light reading (!) you can look through the bibliography of our book:


If you want to find support for your family, you could join Mealtime Hostage – The Group, a Facebook group which provides parent-to-parent peer support for selective eating (SED, ARFID).

If you are a member of Mealtime Hostage – the Group and fancy getting into the real science – why not join our Mealtime Hostage Parenting Science Gang? We are sifting through the research that is out there, and where we find gaps, we are going to do our own research to fill them. Come and join us!

Why not check out some of our previous Q&As? We talked about;

and there are many more. You can see the whole list here:

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