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STUDY: Your Anxiety Could Make Your Child a Fussy Eater

which came first: the fussy eating or the anxiety?

Causes of Kid's Pickey Eating Habits |

Got a fussy eater? Your anxiety or depression could be a contributing factor. At least that's the take home of a study from the Netherlands.

"It's not clear what influences fussy eating," said lead author Lisanne de Barse of Erasmus MC-University Medical Center in Rotterdam. "What we knew is that there was a relationship between mothers' anxiety and depression during the child's life and their children's fussy eating."

Of course some degree of picky eating is totally normal in the preschool set. But where fussy eating was previously linked to constipation, weight and behavioural issues, researchers now cite parental mental health as a potential factor.

However, researchers weren't sure whether the parents' anxiety caused the fussy eating or vice versa. 

The study, published in the Archives of Disease in Childhood, followed more than 4,000 mothers and fathers respectively who had children between April 2002 and January 2006. The parents reported about their mental health and the eating patterns of their child at ages three and four.

Researchers noted a direct correlation between a mother's anxiety and depression during and following pregnancy and the likelihood of her child being rated as a fussy eater. 

Even a father's anxiety during their child's early years was tied to picky eating habits.

"For parents themselves, when they experience anxiety or depression they should report that to their doctors because it could have an impact on themselves and their child," said de Barse.

But don't let another study about parental anxiety make you grow more anxious. Kids can smell when we're stressed and worried from a mile off. 

I'm sure our nutritionists would agree, the best way to get your fussy child to eat is to keep offering them a wide assortment of healthy foods without pressure. And be patient. Most kids naturally go through a picky eating phase that is outgrown as they develop.

 RELATED: 3 Picky Eater Strategies that Work