Slow Eater |

The Many Faces Of Picky-Eaters

Brought to you by Abbott Nutrition

Nearly 1 in 2 Singaporean parents say that their child is a picky-eater*, but what makes a child one? Pediasure presents a 4-part series of tutorials that looks at the different types of picky-eaters to help you identify which one your child may be, because knowing, is half the battle won.




















Slow eating is a form of picky eating which , if not addressed, can pose a problem for your child's overall nourishment. For example, if she takes a few hours eating, the meal may not be completed. Also, if lunch drags on for too long, your child may not be hungry at dinner. These may result in a diminished intake of nutrients.

Some children do not have a problem with the food or eating per se. They may love eating - they just do it really slowly. Seeing your child hold food in her mouth can be frustrating. But with a bit of time, lots of patience and some effective feeding strategies, she could be asking for seconds in no time!

Let us look at some telltale signs that your child may be a slow eater.

  • Taking more than half an hour to finish a meal. (At times, her meal may barely be touched.
  • Playing with food.
  • Holding food in the mouth or chewing excessively without swallowing.
  • Requiring constant reminders to chew or swallow.
  • Requiring a sip of beverage with each mouthful of food.

There may be reasons why your child is a slow eater.

  • Experimenting with food.
  • Easily distracted.
  • Exercising independence in eating.
  • Inadequate nutrition
  • Compromised growth
  • Susceptibility to illness
  • Lower cognitive development
  • Strained parent-child relationship

The Many Faces Of Picky Eaters Series:
Part 2 : The Junk Food Lover
Part 3 : The Choosy Eater
Part 4 : The Small Eater

*Daniel YT Goh and Anna Jacob. Perception of picky eating among children in Singapore and its impact on caregivers: a questionnaire survey Asia Pacific Family Medicine 2012; 11:5.




When we have a family meal, my youngest daughter never fails to take her time to eat. She sits at the table, takes a bite and then chews and chews without swallowing. My husband and I have to always remind her to swallow her food. She spends up to 2 hours at the table to finish her food and gets easily distracted during mealtimes. Sometimes she falls asleep at the dining table! Even if it's a meal she likes, it usually takes her more than an hour to finish it. I am getting a little stressed by this situation. We don't understand why she's behaving this way.

I would love any suggestions to make her eat faster. Thanks.

- Mother: Emily Ang
- Daughter: Keira Marie Carlyle, 7 years old

It is common for most children to go through a phrase of slow eating, as they tend to show more interest in play than food. This usually happens when their rate of growth tapers.

  • Some ways to help your child eat faster:
  • Set a fixed feeding schedule that includes 3 main meals and 1 afternoon snack. (3-4 hours apart)
  • Introduce a 30 minute meal duration and remove the plate of food even if she has not finished.
  • Serve only water between meals. Avoid snacks, juice or milk - anything that could potentially be filling.
  • Keep serving portion small and age appropriate, making it more achievable for her to complete the meal.
  • Avoid distractions so that she can focus on completing the meal.

This way, your child learns to build up an appetite for the next meal and eating together as a family will be enjoyable rather than a chore.

Children may eat slowly due to other reasons, such as food allergies, reflux, oral motor developmental delays or sensory issues.

If you are concerned about your child's eating habit or growth, it is best to visit your paediatrician for assessment and advice.

- Dr Chu Hui Ping,
Consultant Paediatrician, Raffles Hospital.
This comments given by the doctor are for educational purposes and not a product recommendation. Readers should consult their own doctors if they have further enquiries.
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