Doc Talk | Overcoming picky eaters

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Having a child who's a pick eater is common, and has a name. It's called neophobia.

Doctors say parents can be a great help to this condition.

"Food Neophobia is refusal to try the food period," said Fadi Zakko, a pediatrician at Geisinger Holy Spirit.

Children may turn away those deep green vegetables or anything that isn't smothered in cheese. It could be more than just picky eating. Dr. Zakko explains: "Some research suggests that Food Neophobia is a small category of picky eating in general."

Parents can play a big role when it comes to fighting this.

"One of the methods that parents can use to fight Food Neophobia and picky eating is exposure," said Zakko.

Such as putting that dish of veggies in front of your child and making it part of their regular diet.

"Some studies show that you need to expose it to the kid probably fifteen times for the same food in order for them to overcome a type of phobia," said Zakko.

Dr. Zakko reminds parents take a delicate approach to this tactic.

"Trying to expose them to new food should be a positive experience should not be a negative experience," he said.

Zakko suggests making this fun by slowly introducing new foods or maybe invite your child into the kitchen while preparing a healthy meal.

"Also separate the food items, not mix them all together because the children categorization of food starts early in life, but it's not mature yet," explained Zakko.

Another thing to consider is the age. The earlier you introduce good foods the better off.

"More introduction to wide variety early on in life starting from infancy before the child is one year of age that would be a positive."

In recent years, there have been studies suggesting neophobia could be linked to genetics or be environmental.

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