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5 Causes of Sudden Picky Eating


Sometimes picky eating seems to come out of the blue! Puzzling as it is for parents, sudden picky eating is not as uncommon as you might think. Learn about why is happens, and what you can do about it.

boy with hand over his mouth doesn't want to eat the dinner his mom cooked

It goes something like this: life’s humming along, and your kids are eating pretty well. Of course there’s room for improvement, but they’re getting a decent variety of proteins, grains, and fruits, plus a few veggies here and there.

Then, seemingly overnight, one of your kiddos decides she wants NOTHING but waffles. For every meal. It can be confusing and frustrating to watch this happen, but often there’s a reason (sometimes subtle, sometimes not) behind kids’ sudden pickiness.  Here are five causes of sudden picky eating you might identify with.

Why Do Kids Suddenly Become Picky Eaters?

Identifying and understanding WHY kids go on a sudden cracker or yogurt jag can help you know how to navigate back to normal eating habits… and stay sane while you wait for your child to get there. Here’s what might be causing sudden pickiness in your kids:

  1. Your kids are sick, or they’ve recently been sick. Sometimes a hearty appetite can be the last thing to recover after illness.
  2. You’re vacationing, or otherwise eating away from home. When kids don’t have the anchor of familiar surroundings, they might try to compensate by seeking familiar foods.
  3. You’re coming off a sweet-filled holiday. Palates adjust to sugary foods FAST. It can take a few days of normal meals for kids’ tastes to get back in balance.
  4. Your kids are nervous or stressed. It’s hard to think of our little ones under stress, but it happens, and it can noticeably restrict their eating.
  5. Your kids are growing. When kids have growth spurts, their bodies may crave energy-dense foods for a short while, to the exclusion of fruits and veggies.
5 Causes of Sudden Picky Eating

What Can you Do to Help Kids Improve Their Eating Habits?

The good news about sudden picky eating is that it often resolves all by itself. While we wait for our kids to re-balance their eating habits, it’s important to continue offering fresh fruits and veggies, and keep a low-pressure atmosphere around food during meals and snacks.

If you have longstanding concerns about your child’s nutrition, don’t hesitate to take your questions to her pediatrician.

And check out some of our best strategies for encouraging picky eaters to eat a greater variety of healthy foods:


Natalie Monson

I'm a registered dietitian, mom of 4, avid lover of food and strong promoter of healthy habits. Here you will find lots of delicious recipes full of fruits and veggies, tips for getting your kids to eat better and become intuitive eaters and lots of resources for feeding your family.

Learn More about Natalie

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Kids are very picky about food. It becomes hard to feed them sometimes. I have had my own moments when my kid just refuses to eat anything. I didn’t know the reason until I read your blog. Thanks for the share.

Sometimes it can be because they’ve recently had antibiotics. I’m not saying don’t take them but make sure to give them probiotics after they’re done with their course and stay away from sugar for awhile. A change in the microbiome can affect our desire for certain foods and even how food tastes to us. Our gut-brain connection is so strong!