Sometimes a child may only eat certain foods. The underlying cause may range from the mundane to the serious.

Patient selection: child eats only certain foods, refusing the rest


Differential diagnosis:

(1) neophobia: food novel or unknown, usually overcome by repeated exposures

(2) picky eater (mild selectivity), usually outgrown

(3) highly selective (severe selectivity)

(3a) sensory food aversion (based on taste, texture, smell or appearance)

(3b) psychological

(4) organic/medical condition

(4a) developmental delay affecting oral motor skills

(4b) hyper- or hyposensitive sensory response

(4c) inherited metabolic disorder with toxic metabolite with aversion to triggering foods


The prognosis for severe selectivity or for an organic condition depends on the cause and may require interventions.


Problems can arise if a parent's response results in a fight over dominance and control.

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