Feeding Disorders or Difficulties

Also known as: feeding problems, picky eating, food fads, restrictive eating

What are feeding disorders or difficulties?

The terms feeding disorders or feeding difficulties are frequently used to refer to infants and children who have problems with eating enough and/or an appropriate variety of foods. This increases their risk for abnormal physical, cognitive, behavioral and psychological development and places a strain on family finances.

What causes feeding disorders or difficulties?

In infants, commonly feeding difficulties result from prematurity, swallowing problems, establishing nipple feelings, and gastroesophageal reflux (where's all amounts of stomach contents and stomach acid goes back up the food pipe causing pain). Most babies will improve with time (and where necessary medications). In older children medical conditions ( like food allergies) and mealtime behaviors like picky eating (not interested in foods), fussy eating (changes food choices frequently),food refusal (consistently refuses a range of foods), food phobia (afraid to try new foods) and restricted variety of foods (usually won't eat one or more types of food) are common.

What are the symptoms of feeding disorders or difficulties?

Along with simply having trouble eating, infants/children may choke, vomit or gag when eating. They may throw tantrums at mealtime. A child with a feeding disorder that persists can have problems with their physical and mental development over time.

What are feeding disorders or difficulties care options?

Successful treatment will vary depending on the age of the baby/ child and on the nature of the feeding disorder or difficulty. Infant/ mothers may need education, a lactation specialist and pediatrician input. Children with severe feeding difficulties may need different strategies with a variety of health specialists involved including pediatrician, dietitian, speech pathologist, psychologist and social worker. Some children may need medication or surgery, or even a feeding tube to get the proper nutrients for growth.

Reviewed by: Jack Wolfsdorf, MD, FAAP

This page was last updated on: 6/21/2019 2:17:48 AM

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