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Matt Bittner, MS, OTR/L, The Children’s Institute

An occupational therapist with more than 17 years of experience, Matt Bittner, MS, OTR/L has worked with children with feeding difficulties his entire career.


Q: How can picky eating effect a child and family?
A: Picky eating can have a significant impact as it increases stress during mealtime. Caregivers may have to make alternative meals, the child may not be able to eat the foods offered, and siblings can get stuck in the middle of the struggle. Families must transition from doing what is easy vs. what will help in the long term.

Q: What can families do about picky eating?
A: Families need to know there is help. The first step is recognizing the problem. The next step is making a change. Share the problem with your pediatrician who can refer you to The Children’s Institute where we do an evaluation to look at the child’s skill level, how they respond to food and expectations, and learn about their routines. This evaluation is key to getting the child on the right track with eating and nutrition, and making mealtime less of a challenge at home, school, and in the community.

Q: Picky Eaters vs. Problem Feeders
A: Picky eaters are able to eat foods from most, if not all, of the major food groups, but also have preferences for foods they like and do not like. They are able to eat their preferred foods at home, school and in the community, but often do not venture outside of their comfort zone.

Problem feeders do not eat foods from most of the major food groups, causing concerns with overall growth, weight gain, and nutrition. They typically eat less than 10 foods, eliminate foods, and do not add new foods into their diet.

Picky eaters and problem feeders can experience challenges with aversions to foods based on texture, sight, smell, or taste. They may not be able to eat food presented at a birthday party, buy a school lunch, or go out to eat without bringing preferred foods.

Q: When is it time to reach for help?
A: The sooner we meet you and your child, the better. The younger the child, the greater the opportunity to impact their skills and provide strategies to decrease stress and improve the mealtime routine.

Learn more about The Children’s Institute at amazingkids.org or call (412) 420-2362 to schedule an evaluation.

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