QOD: Does my child have a feeding disorder?

When your child refuses food, it can frustrate even the most patient parent. Young children can be notoriously picky eaters, but when does it cross the line into an actual feeding disorder? Let’s take a look at some of the characteristics of childhood feeding problems.

What are childhood feeding disorders?

Children with feeding disorders have a hard time sucking, chewing, or swallowing food. They don’t eat an adequate amount for proper nutrition, calories, or hydration. Consistent refusal of food can cause weight loss and lead to malnutrition.

What are some signs and symptoms of childhood feeding disorders?

Children can display varying symptoms of feeding disorders. Some signs may include:

  • Irritability while feeding
  • Coughing, gagging, or vomiting during meals
  • Taking a long time to feed (often longer than 30 minutes), and
  • Refusing entire food groups or different food textures

How are childhood feeding disorders treated?

Childhood feeding disorders can often be caused by underlying medical problems, so management by a pediatrician is a crucial first step in treatment. If feeding issues remain, a child may require feeding therapy from a trained speech-language pathologist. Therapy may target strengthening the muscles of the mouth and helping a child to tolerate a wider variety of foods and textures. 

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