Fussy Eating and Problem Feeders

Fussy Eaters & Problem Feeders?
While the terms “fussy eaters” and “problem feeders” are often used interchangeably, they are in fact quite distinct. They vary in relation to factors such as severity of reaction to food, time taken to add new foods to diet etc. For example fussy eaters usually have a restricted diet of 30 foods, while problem feeder have typically 20 foods or less in their died. The SOS approach offers a helpful further insights into this difference here.

Contributing factors
Research suggests several reasons to why an individual may be fussy eaters or problem feeders. Some included are (see research for further reading):

  • Difficulties with processing sensory input related to food e.g. smell, texture of food. This means some foods may be rejected even before consumption, due to negative sensory experiences.

  • Limited cognitive categorising of food, some individuals may reject food because it does not fit within their category of what food is

  • Social pressures resulting in negative experiences with food

Associated issues
Fussy eaters and problem feeders are both troubling for a child’s development. In some cases, this may lead to nutritional concerns, due to the limited range of food consumed. It can also be highly distressing and challenging for other family members to deal with, since parents may be constantly battling during meal times.

If you have concerns about your child’s eating habits, you may be interested in exploring our “Love Real Food” group.


Lafraire, J., Rioux, C., Giboreau, A., & Picard, D. (2016). Food rejections in children: Cognitive and social/environmental factors involved in food neophobia and picky/fussy eating behavior. Appetite, 96, 347-357. doi:10.1016/j.appet.2015.09.008

Taylor, C. M., Wernimont, S. M., Northstone, K., & Emmett, P. M. (2015). Picky/fussy eating in children: Review of definitions, assessment, prevalence and dietary intakes. Appetite, 95, 349-359. doi:10.1016/j.appet.2015.07.026