My child only wants white pasta: how do I react?

Many children refuse to try new foods. This rejection of novelty is called food neophobia. How to manage it and encourage children to discover new tastes? The advice of Alexia Challan Belval, clinical psychologist, and Aurélie Grimaud Daunizeau, psychomotrician specializing in childhood, authors of the book Help, my child does not eat anything!

  My child only wants white pasta: how do I react?

According to the French Society of Pediatrics, 77% of children reject new foods between the ages of 2 and 10 . This fear of novelty is therefore normal but must be monitored when it persists or increases.

The period when children begin to refuse to eat foods that seem foreign to them is called food neophobia.

What is food neophobia?

' The period when children begin to refuse to eat foods that seem foreign to them is called food neophobia. It usually arrives around the age of 18 months ', explains Alexia Challan Belval, psychologist and mother of 3 children and author with Aurélie Grimaud Daunizeau of the book Help, my child isn't eating anything! ' It often peaks between the ages of 2 and 3 and is normal in child development.' , adds Aurélie Grimaud Daunizeau, psychomotor therapist and mother of 2 children, one of whom had to be supported to overcome her food selectivity.

What are its causes ?

' One of the reasons why the child begins to refuse is that he begins to assert his personality. It is also the period of no and the beginning of opposition behavior. He gradually realizes that he has the power to change the world around him. It is very difficult to differentiate genuine apprehension of novelty from oppositional behavior ', explains Alexia Challan Belval

How to make him want to eat something else?

' There are lots of tips to make your child want to discover new foods. It is possible to cook with the child , this allows him to smell, touch and see the food before it is processed. It is also possible to offer him tiny pieces to start and gradually increase the size of the food. It is also strongly recommended to sit down with the child and to eat the same thing as him so that, by mimicry, he dares to make new sensory experiences ', advises Alexia Challan Belval.

Conversely, what should you avoid doing?

Tired by their vain attempts, some parents end up giving up talking and forcing their child to eat certain foods. But this is not the right attitude even if it can be understood. ' There are pitfalls to avoid. It's necessary avoid forcing food , this usually causes a conflict that is uncomfortable for everyone, but that does not prevent him from getting on his plate. The most important thing is not to offer anything else if the child refuses and not to compensate with a big dessert if he has refused his dish. . Children can go to bed even if dinner was unsatisfactory ', explains Alexia Challan Belval.

' One could say, to summarize, that it is simply necessary to encourage the child, and to let him assume his choices, without getting upset. In short: follow his path without blackmail or emotional spikes (...) To do this, you have to accept that it sometimes takes time for the child to understand that from now on, the rules have changed ', emphasizes Aurélie Grimaud Daunizeau.

What deficiencies are children exposed to when monofeeding?

Park at Scurvy !

This historical disease that we thought was obsolete is back in children. Several pediatric hospitals observe this each year. This disease, which mainly affected sailors, occurs when there is a total and prolonged deficiency of vitamin C . It results from eating disorders and hyper-restrictive diets. In children, scurvy is manifested in particular by gingivitis, conjunctival hemorrhages or bone abnormalities that affect their motor skills.

' A healthy child does not starve to death . He will eventually agree to eat what you offer him on the condition that you regularly offer him varied foods so as not to reduce his food panel to a few foods. You have to try several days in a row and stay firm . In general after three days we see changes ', remarked Alexia Challan Belval.

' We can also remember that we make this effort to accompany our child towards more variety in order to offer him, in the long term, a more varied diet, therefore more balanced... and better for his health! In any case, a medical opinion can be taken by the family who cannot be reassured “, advises Aurélie Grimaud Daunizeau.

When and who to consult if it persists?

' The earlier you consult, the less likely you are to see difficulties set in . In general, parents consult when their child's food difficulties invade their daily lives and have a social impact. Above all, don't be ashamed. Many parents experience this, so we have to dare to talk about it ', notes Alexia Challan Belval. ' It also allows you to put a little distance in a situation that is often very emotional: it is then easier to put things in place if it is the professional who carries some of the choices made at home. This makes it possible to find a consensus in a family context where often everyone has their own opinion. ', emphasizes Aurélie Grimaud Daunizeau.