From Omnivorous to Picky Eater – What Changed?

Dr. Greene’s take on a picky eater…


Ever wonder why a 9-month-old will put anything in her mouth and the same 19-month-old refuses to eat anything new? This activity is so common that there’s even a name for it – neophobia or “the fear of new things”.

After observing my patients go through this over and over again I had to ask myself why? And I came to the conclusion kids were actually designed that way.

In this week’s video, I describe food neophobia and why it has an important place in childhood development.

If you have a baby who is still in the “hummm, let’s see what dust-bunnies taste like” phase of life, i.e. about six months old to about the time she begins to walk, here’s some great information to help you keep her from becoming too picky as an eater. If your child has already entered into the food neophobia phase and has a limited palate, there are ways make changes that will help you and your child though it.

Either way, I’d love to hear your picky eater story.

Published on: September 14, 2015
About the Author
Photo of Alan Greene MD
Dr. Greene is a practicing physician, author, national and international TEDx speaker, and global health advocate. He is a graduate of Princeton University and University of California San Francisco.
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My 4 yr old daughter use to eat any and everything when she was younger. Once she turned 2 it seems like she got very picky! Things she’d eat and love she hated and didn’t want at all. I’m not really even sure how, but since then she’s ate a few different Banquet TV dinners. The Chicken Fried chicken, Salisbury, chicken nuggs, fish Stix, and spag n meat balls. I know this can’t be good all the time?! She’ll also eat mashed/baked pot, and hb meat seasoned n chopped up! She also loves sweet potato baby food as her dip sauce for her ckn n fish, likes green beans, broccoli, Go Gerts, pancakes, biscuits, fruit snacks, peaches, pudding, jello, n cheese fries! I try n try and she refuses anything. She’ll go all day at preschool and only eat a tiny snack if it’s not something she likes n that worries me to death. What to do? Why if she use to eat everything? I’m outta options and worried about her not getting enough at school.

Often, with babies, when the families introduce solid foods, some children may have great difficulties in managing the high textures of these foods if they are tongue tied. Ankyloglossia typically is noticed when newborn infants have trouble latching, and is often accompanied by an upper lip tie or frenum. If the babies manage to drink with these TOT’s (tethered oral tissues), breast feed or bottle, they sometimes gag or reject the next level of food due to their inability to move food easily to the side or back of the mouth for swallowing. Older children can exhibit ‘picky’ eating behavior, which could just be the child’s way of compensating and protecting their airway from choking on the bolus of food. We see and treat 20 babies a week, releasing these lip and tongue ties, and have excellent results in preventing eating, speech, swallowing and orthodontic disorders. Use the services of your health professionals; speech and language pathologists, swallowing specialists, pediatricians, pediatric dentists, lactation consultants, chiropractors and others in the early evaluation, diagnosis, and treatment of myo-oral dysfunction that may be caused by TOT’s.

What about a 5 year old that’s still picky?! But thinks that playdoh looks tasty.

This is one thing I never heard of before. Thanks again for a great post.

Hello, I have a 1 yr old baby girl who is a VERY PICKY EATER. She’s only 18 lbs. Her doctor insists that she’s fine. All her labs always come back excellent yet she is only 18 lbs! It’s very frustrating when people ask me how did I get my 8 month old to walk so soon! She only likes chicken and rice she won’t do mash potatoes let alone veggies. She eats fruits and has at least 2 pediasure a day. Recently she’s had diarrhea on and off for 2 wks. So she’s lost a pound. I don’t know what else to do! Is there anything I can do to get her to eat more?

I am an SLP who works with children with feeding disorders, so I was adamant that my child was going to eat everything. I breastfed for 2 years, made my own baby food, didnt follow feeding guidelines for introducing foods, added different spices to his food, and even regularly puréed what husband and I ate. Surprise! My child is still picky. He eats one vegetable, several fruits, and 3 proteins that have to always be presented in the same form and he won’t touch anything green with a ten foot pole. I hope that some day soon my efforts in infancy will be repaid by a boy who eats his spinach (and likes it!)

Thanks to Feeding Baby Green I was prepared for my son to start cutting foods out of his diet (even though I hoped it wouldn’t happen). I just try to remember its just a stage and I keep exposing my son to different foods and new food experiences (cooking, gardening etc).


Thanks for sharing your story. I know it must be frustrating to you, but your experience is shared by so many parents. Certainly you will be able to relate to the parents you’re working with who are experiencing feeding difficulties.

For our kids, we were pretty relaxed. We’d put unfavored foods on the table and say “As you grow your tastes will change. Give it a try and see if you’ve grown enough for it to taste good to you now.”

Interestingly our kids started liking different foods at different times. Some in elementary school. Others in high school. One of our 20-something kids is just now on a journey to like several new foods.

In the meantime, sounds like you’re doing everything right.

Best, @MsGreene
Note: I am the co-founder of, but I am not Dr. Greene and I am not a doctor. Please keep that in mind when reading my comments and replies.