Is There a Link Between My Toddler’s Speech Delay & Picky Eating?

Wondering if there is a link between a toddler speech delay and your child being a picky eater? Check out the results of our research and find out!

You have a picky eater, who also has a toddler speech delay.  As parents we want the best for our children and that means we want them to eat well too!  I know for me, I am always looking for correlation between things that my daughter does.  First we must understand the difference between a picky eater and a problem feeder.  But is there a correlation between having a picky eater (or problem feeder) and toddler speech delay?

Toddler Speech Delay and Picky Eater: Is There A Link?

Picky Eater: A picky eater is one who only eats foods from one category (dairy, meats, that sort of thing) or has a limited number of foods he will eat.  He will try new foods (bonus!) but it takes a bunch of times (anywhere from 10-25 times) to get him to add it to the foods he will eat.

Problem Feeder: This is a different boat.  A problem feeder is not a picky eater, he might refuse to eat whole categories of foods based on texture.  He might only like one kind of food such as salty or sweet.  If you introduce a new food, be prepared, this might not go over well, and if he tries it, it may seem like forever before it will be one of the foods he will eat.

Can this all be related to a toddler speech delay?  The answer is yes…and no.  Unfortunately, toddlers, as fun as they can be, always throw us a curve ball just when we think we know what is going on.  My daughter has always been a picky eater and her speech development is normal (we have had her tested, as there was question of some hearing issues from multiple ear infections as a toddler).  I also had a cousin who for years would eat only chicken nuggets and mac and cheese. Even at Thanksgiving dinner, his mom would make him nuggets!

I was unable to find any hardcore facts and research done to make this a definite yes or no discussion.  Every child is different.  It wouldn’t be fun if they were all the same right?  Sort of frustrating because as parents, we want answers sometimes as to why our children are the way they are.  Some kids are just picky eaters, and happen to have a speech delay.  Some kids are picky eaters and do not have a toddler speech delay.


Are you the parent of a child who is a picky eater or a problem feeder and happens to have a toddler speech delay?  How do you go about getting them to eat more of a variety of foods as well as improve their speech development?  Share some of your successes (and failures!) with us below.  

20 thoughts on “Is There a Link Between My Toddler’s Speech Delay & Picky Eating?”

  1. There are so many people who have sensory issues and don’t even really know it – some are sensory seeking (someone who literally seeks out increased stimulation like proprioceptive input or spinning, for example) and others are sensory defensive (someone who isn’t able to tolerate certain textures, sounds, etc.). I would think that this could relate to both feeding and speaking!

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  3. I have a picky eater, I know all about chicken nuggets and mac and cheese lol. At least we know what picky eaters like, I guess there’s something about chicken nuggets and mac and cheese :p

  4. My oldest son was slow to talk. He was very physically active though. I had a friend that was always so concerned that my son wasn’t communicating to her expectations. I never really worried about it because I was confident that it was his normal. And it was. Once he started talking, he never really stopped, LOL. He also was not a picky eater.

  5. You are so right. Every child is so different! With 3 girls that are in the same household with the same parents, I still have such crazy differences amongst them in almost everything!

  6. Please let me preface this by saying I am not giving advice or comparing, but rather sharing my story. My son, who is now 13, did not talk until he was almost 15 months old. He was a hugely picky eater and at his one year check up he only weighed 15 pounds. It turned out he had Asperger’s Syndrome, which is on the autism spectrum. You can read about it on my blog if you want to see what my journey was like.

  7. It depends on the child … I was a picky eater as a kid and still is now and I was told I started talking really early and started school at 2 1/2 ( kids are allowed to start that early in Jamaica once they can talk and use the Bathroom ) I don’t think there is any need to be worried

  8. It’s so hard to say- it really seems to go both ways. My middle child had a speech delay, and she’s actually not a horribly picky eater- she LOVES her fruits and veggies, and prefers tofu over meat. My 3 year old is advanced in her speech and she is SO picky.

  9. This is such a great question because both issues involve the oral cavity. There are so many people who have sensory issues and don’t even really know it – some are sensory seeking (someone who literally seeks out increased stimulation like proprioceptive input or spinning, for example) and others are sensory defensive (someone who isn’t able to tolerate certain textures, sounds, etc.). I would think that this could relate to both feeding and speaking!

  10. Robin (Masshole Mommy)

    I think it depends on the kid. I can’t imagine there would be any kind of correlation between speech and eating.

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