Feeding Problems

Do I need help from a Dietitian?

The PICNIC project is a great resource to help give you the tools to feel confident in feeding your baby and handling different situations as they arise. One of the most common concerns that come up is around picky eating. 

Picky eating is a very normal part of development for a baby (check out more on picky eating click here). However, there are some circumstances where it may be best to seek help from a professional like a doctor and/or dietitian.

The chart below will help you determine if you have a picky eater or a problem feeder. If it seems as though your baby falls more in the “problem feeder” category, we suggest chatting to your doctor or locating a dietitian for more help.  



Decreased range or variety of foods; will eat at least 30 different foods.

Restricted range or variety of foods, usually less than 20 different foods.

Foods lost due to “burn out” because of a food jag are usually re-gained after a 2-week break.

**A food jag is the practice of eating one food repeatedly over time.

Foods lost due to food jags are NOT re-acquired after taking a break, often resulting in a decreasing number of foods in a child’s repertoire.

**A food jag is the practice of eating one food repeatedly over time.

Able to tolerate new foods on plate: usually can touch or taste a new food (even if reluctantly).

Cries and “falls apart” when presented with new foods responds with complete refusal.

Eats at least one food from most food texture or nutrition groups (e.g. purees, meltables proteins, fruits).

Refuses entire categories of food texture or nutrition groups (e.g. hard mechanical, meats, vegetables, soft cubes).

Frequently eats a different set of foods at a meal than the rest of the family (typically eats with the family).

Almost always eats different foods at a meal than the rest of the family (often doesn’t eat with the family).

Sometimes reported by parent as a “picky eater” at community health check-ups.

Persistently reported by parent as a “picky eater” across multiple community health check-ups.

The limited food intake of “problem feeders” may impact a baby’s overall growth and development.  If you’re concerned about how your child is growing, be sure to have a chat to your health professional to have your baby measured and discuss how they’re tracking on the growth charts. Click here for more information regarding growth charts. 

Your doctor may refer your baby to see a dietitian

A dietitian has a qualification in nutrition and dietetics recognised by a national authority and is skilled in providing nutrition and dietary advice.

Some conditions that dietitians can help with are: 
  • Food allergies or intolerances
  • Gastrointestinal issues
  • Poor growth or malnutrition
  • Fussy eating ** See chart to help you determine if you have a “picky eater” or a “problem feeder” 
  • Special Healthcare Needs (Type 1 Diabetes, developmental disabilities, cardiac issues, tube feedings,cancer, cerebral palsy).

You don’t need a referral from your doctor to see a dietitian, however if you are seeking a dietitian, be sure to look for an Accredited Practising Dietitian click here.