Lori's Blog

3 Influences that have an Affect on your Child’s Poor Eating Habits

Does your child demonstrate finicky behavior at the table? Let’s take a moment to look at 3 influential factors that are the first and primary issues to address when considering the causes of a child’s poor appetite.

1. Possible Health Problems

Has your child had health problems during infancy such as premature birth, chronic ear infections, congenital birth defects, or been affected by the common medical condition known as Failure to Thrive? Medical conditions and disabilities that are discovered early on during a child’s infant years are often deemed to be predictors of infants who grow up to be picky eaters. For example, if your child has been affected by Failure to Thrive, you have seen your child’s unwillingness to latch on to a breast or bottle as an infant. However, whichever medical condition your child may have been affected by as an infant, it is not the actual ailment that is at the core of your child’s resistance or lack of interest in food. It is the anxiety that has been generated as a result of it- and an imbalance in the condition that functions to set the tempo for your child’s regular eating habits.


Relax your child before mealtime. Reading a favorite story, watching a television program, even taking a bath naturally produces a relaxed state.  When at the table, focus less on getting your child to eat and more time enjoying each other as a family. These simple alterations in your family’s daily routine will function to dramatically reduce the pressures that consume children during mealtime.

2. A Digitally Saturated Environment

You might not expect it, but, an environment saturated with digital devices is another dynamic for you to consider when seeking out influences affecting your child’s issues with food. iPads, video games, laptops, smart phone devices and other electronics are increasingly making their way into the hands of younger and younger children. In effect, the intellectual capacity of recent generations easily surpasses that of children 30 plus years ago. However, this evolutionary leap is not without consequence. Increased overall brain functionality stimulated by new technology creates an unusually heightened sense of awareness. Because of this, today’s child frequently comes to the meal table over-stimulated and anxious, which has a direct effect on his or her appetite.


Taking away technology is not the solution as it is an integral part of our culture and children require it now in various aspects of their daily life. However, establishing firm and clear limits regarding where, when and how much a child can use technology will assist in lowering the stressors it produces. Limit your child’s access to age appropriate technology. Finally, assist to facilitate in the comprehension of the technological information your child is interacting with. These suggestions will translate into a more peaceful internal disposition which is the ideal state for a child sitting at the table.

3. Hyper-attentive Parenting Style

Are you a hyper-attentive ‘helicopter parent’ who turns your household into a 24-hour cafe and feeds your child when she or he is fully capable of grabbing a snack her own? Unfortunately, despite your best efforts in getting your child to eat, this actually results in an atmosphere where your child is even less likely to eat. Over-attending to your child’s needs not only prevents the development of autonomy, but also impedes problem solving skills that a child requires to successfully navigate throughout life. A child who is denied opportunities to function independently and experience success and failure in the household only compounds the anxiety that manifests during mealtime, resulting in poor eating habits at the table.


Improving independent skills in the home builds a strong sense of competence and confidence. Take these skills even further by encouraging your child to traverse age-appropriate interactions with people and familiar environments. These positive attributes embedded in your child will most assuredly spill over into mealtime creating a more conducive mood and setting for proper eating habits into the future.

The Takeaway

Ruling out possible health problems, reasonably regulating the digital content that your child has access to, and re-evaluating a hyper-attentive parenting style are all important steps in moving towards healthy mealtime habits. After each of these important factors have been addressed, consider these helpful tips on making mealtime a more fun and relaxing environment that will encourage your child to eat more.

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