The Sniff Test

by Alison Bell

The Sniff Test

When your toddler sits down to eat, does he have to smell whatever’s on his plate before deciding if it’s worthy of his mouth?

If so, he’s not the only kid who uses his nose before he noshes. Sniffing is common for picky eaters, who are naturally suspicious of food and tend to inspect it. It’s also a delay tactic, says Max Bulmash, M.D., a pediatrician in Brooklyn. If those peas don’t look appealing, smelling them’s a great way to put off eating them!

But even a good eater may sniff before he tastes, since toddlers love to explore their environment. This is why they often mash or play with their food. Not to mention that your child has probably seen you inhaling the aroma of soupon the stove or watched his dad breathing in the scent of freshly baked cookies.

Another possible explanation: It’s a control thing. When your child uses his sense of smell to approve or veto that bowl of creamed corn or oatmeal, he’s telling you that he, not you, is ultimately in charge of what he eats.

If the food fails the test, don’t push it, advises Dr. Bulmash, or you may drive him to dislike it even more. Wait a few days and try again. This time around, the aroma might be just right!