Q: My child is 2.5 and she still puts stuff in her mouth. This doesn't seem to be passing with age. She loves rocks, wood, plants, plastic, books...the list continues. When asked why, she says they're delicious. However, she wont eat her meal or snacks most of the time. She seems to prefer non-food items to food items. Anyone have any ideas??

A: I had the same problem with my youngest son. He was especially curious and adventurous, and he would try to eat just about anything he could fit in his mouth until he was around three years old. Even at the age of four, he would still eat the dog’s kibble if I didn’t keep it out of his reach!

As the mother of a child who tries to put just about everything in her mouth, you already know that you have to be especially vigilant to make sure that she doesn’t choke. Whenever you take one of these nonfood items away from your daughter, remind her that it’s “Yucky!” and it’s not to be eaten. It’s also wise to discuss this issue with your pediatrician. In some cases, craving nonfood items can be a sign of a nutritional deficiency, and your doctor can check your daughter for that. It’s a good idea to take your daughter to a pediatric dentist as well. The dentist can check your daughter’s teeth and make sure that there’s not a problem with her teeth that might cause her to want to chew on hard items.

Your daughter’s unwillingness to eat all of her meals or snacks could be related to her love of nonfood items, but more likely it’s just normal two-year-old behavior.  Just keep offering her tasty, nutritious foods at every meal and snack, and keep encouraging her to eat them. Helping kids develop a love for wholesome, nutritious foods takes a lot of patience and effort. It’s one of the biggest challenges moms face, but it’s one of the most important things we’ll do for our children.

Answered by Dr. Rallie McAllister



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