Feeding Difficulties

Many parents bring their infants and children to our practice for help with feeding problems. Almost all children can present some difficulty at meal times ranging from picky eaters to kids who just won't drink or eat enough to grow. Some infants and children may have a serious feeding disorder that may prevent them from growing properly. The number of children with these disorders has increased over the past ten years due to advances in medical care, especially with regard to premature infants.

Common problems affecting feeding, especially in infants, may include reflux, prematurity or milk protein allergy. More severe feeding problems are particularly common among children with developmental delay, sensory disorders, and autism. However, multiple other reasons may result in feeding disorders including anatomical or structural problems (eg. cleft palate), medical conditions, swallowing disorders, oral-sensory disorders, delayed introduction of foods or interruption in learning (eg. cardiac surgery), and behavioral mismanagement. Often, there is an interaction of multiple factors leading to the development of feeding problems.

When children have feeding disorders, this may cause failure to thrive (Failure to Thrive information from NASPGHAN) as well as stressful meal time interactions. Please be aware that the term "failure to thrive" does not mean that the parent or child is failing or is a failure. This term is left over from the 1800's and means something different today. Our doctors at GI Care for Kids evaluate and coordinate the treatment of these infants and children. In some cases, medical treatments along with dietary counseling by our nutritionists will resolve the feeding disorder. In other cases, some children will benefit by placement of a gastrostomy tube (Percutaneous Gastrostomy Tube Care information from Cincinnati Children's Hospital) or by working with a specialized feeding team.

Our doctors can help your pediatrician with your infant's or child's feeding problems. Please help us by bringing a copy of all previous lab tests and growth records with you to your specialist's appointment. Bringing the records with you saves us time and resources and allows your doctor to spend more time with you and your child.


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