A picky-eating kid can be a parent’s nightmare. After all, adults just want their kid to be a well-rounded human being and maybe become a doctor or an astronaut or president. And they obviously can’t get there without eating their vegetables. While pickiness is as common as a kid eating his or her boogers, a recent study suggests a psychological aspect that corresponds with age.
Pickiness under the age of two, The Atlantic reports, can prevent these babies from accidentally poisoning themselves by sticking inedibles into their mouths.
Here’s a brief breakdown of how pickiness evolves as kids get older.
Age two: peak pickiness. They don’t call them the terrible twos for nothing.
Age three: Kids can see through your fake “yums” and start making decisions for themselves.
Age six: Pickiness has caught the bus out of the town and may be gone for good.
Genes can also make some foods truly unbearable: TAS2R38 can up the bitter factor in some foods. The Atlantic spoke to nutritionists who advised against both forcing food on the little ones and making dessert a reward if they do decide to partake in the icky stuff in front of them. The latter will turn eating the things they don’t want to eat into a chore.
Parents, if you don’t play your cards right, your picky child could grow up to be a picky adult. And we all know nothing’s worse than a picky adult.