When a child refuses you, it can frustrate the most patient parent. Young children can be notoriously picky eaters, but when does it cross the line to an actual feeding disorder?
What are childhood feeding disorders?
Children with feeding disorders have a hard time sucking, chewing, or swallowing food. They do not consume adequate amounts for proper calories, nutrition, or hydration. Their consistent refusal of food can cause weight loss and lead to malnutrition.
How do I know if my child has a feeding disorder?
Children can display varying symptoms of feeding disorders. Some signs may include irritability during feeding and coughing, choking, gagging, or vomiting during meals. Other signs include holding food inside the mouth, taking a long time to finish feeding — often longer than 30 minutes — and often refusing to eat many food groups or refusing 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 toward 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 the child accept a wider variety of textures and foods.