From the real experts at Hassenfield Children’s Hospital at NYU Langone:
Researchers at NYU Langone Health have launched When to Wonder: Picky Eating, a new app that studies children’s food preferences and emotions to better understand picky eating in young children and provide real-time suggestions for parents.
Picky eating is common among children, and parents of picky eaters often find themselves lacking the knowledge they need to address their child’s distinct challenges and needs. The Picky Eating app, intended for use with children age 6 and under, employs questionnaires, a child-friendly food sort game, and video activities, all completed on a smartphone to gather information from both children and parents.
Participants are screened for eligibility and then prompted to give informed consent to be enrolled in the study after downloading the app. The data collected through the research study is anonymized and securely stored at NYU Langone Health to enable researchers to examine children’s emotions, behaviors, and development as well as the impact of social and demographic influences, parent–child interactions, and other risk factors on young children’s development and mental health.
The main feature of the app is a food sort game using high-quality images of foods; children and parents separately play the game, swiping through to indicate whether a food is “yummy” or “yucky.” Then parents play the same game answering the question “Will your child eat this?” Afterward, the parent and child can compare answers by viewing their matches. Another interactive feature enables children to watch short videos while the front-facing camera records a video of the child, allowing computer vision tools to characterize the child’s emotions and attention.
The app offers parents evidence-based advice on their child’s food preferences, eating behaviors, and emotions, and provides suggestions on how to support their child’s healthy eating. In some cases, families are encouraged to seek further consultation with their healthcare providers.