A Parent’s Guide to Food Aversions & Weight in Children

Posted On: 06-10-2016
A Parent’s Guide to Food Aversions & Weight in Children
If your child is not gaining weight normally, it can lead to failure to thrive, which can affect your child’s ability to grow and develop normally. One of the reasons for improper weight gain could be food aversion. Characterized by having a difficult time consuming certain foods, a food aversion goes beyond the general picky eating that can be common in childhood. If your child’s food aversion is affecting his weight gain, you will need to work with his doctor to target the cause and help him gain weight normally.


The first step in handling a food aversion and getting your child on track with healthy weight gain is to treat the source of the problem first. A food aversion can be medical and a result of an allergy, intolerance, or gastrointestinal issues. For example, if your child experiences stomach pains and diarrhea after eating dairy products, she might be lactose intolerant and will need substitutions for cheeses, milk and yogurt.

A food aversion can also be psychological or a learned response, especially if she associates negative emotions with a certain food or is afraid of gaining weight. Her doctor might do testing to help determine what is causing the food aversion. You can help by keeping a record of the things that she eats and drinks and how she reacts to them in order to pinpoint the problem.

Meals and Snacks

Despite his food aversions, you can help your child gain weight by providing a consistent and reliable meal schedule. You could try offering him foods that he is already successful with and has not previously shown an aversion to, and introducing new foods carefully to watch for his reaction. Keep in mind that a large amount of drinks like milk and juice can make less room in his appetite for foods that he needs to gain weight. Ask his doctor about ideas for high-calorie but healthy foods that aren’t affected by his food aversions, such as peanut butter for a snack and a dip.


Due to your child’s history of food aversion, you might find that she is hesitant to try anything new. Offer her praise for trying new things, and be patient if she eats and makes progress at a slow pace. Avoid forcing or bribing your child when it comes to trying to eat different foods. This can cause her to develop negative feelings associated with eating, which can lead to more food aversions.


Keep in mind that every child is different when it comes to growth, development and weight gain. More important than your child’s overall weight gain is his position on his growth chart. Consistently staying in one growth percentile will show whether he is growing at a decent pace, so some food aversions might not actually be a problem for his weight. It’s best to talk to his doctor if you are concerned about his weight gain, and work with the doctor on finding a solution.

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