When children turn away from their plates, you can dismiss it as fussy eating. However, persistent mealtime problems could signal a more serious issue - a feeding disorder. These disorders go beyond typical food preferences and can profoundly affect a child's nutrition, growth, and development.
At PediaPlex, we understand how concerning it can be for parents when their child constantly battles with food. Our dedicated team of specialists is committed to helping families identify and understand the signs of feeding disorders, empowering them with the knowledge needed to seek the right help.
Look for the following six signs that your child may struggle with a feeding disorder.
1. Difficulty chewing or swallowing
One of the first signs of a potential feeding disorder is difficulty with the physical act of eating. If your child frequently chokes, gags, or coughs during meals, it might suggest issues with oral motor skills. At PediaPlex, our therapists use specific diagnostic tools to identify any physical difficulties your child might have with eating.
2. Limited range of food preferences
While it's normal for children to have favorite foods, a feeding disorder may present as an unusually narrow range of accepted foods, leading your child to consume fewer than 20 types of food and refuse to try new ones. If you've noticed such behavior, it might be time to consult with our specialists at PediaPlex.
3. Food or texture refusal
Children with feeding disorders often display strong aversions to certain textures or types of food. For instance, they might only accept pureed food or refuse to eat anything crunchy. At PediaPlex, our team is skilled in working with children who have texture aversions, utilizing therapies designed to expand their comfort with different food textures.
4. Fear or anxiety around mealtimes
It could be a feeding disorder if your child seems anxious or fearful at mealtime. You should address these emotional responses early, as they can result in negative associations with eating.
5. Slow growth or inadequate weight gain
One of the most serious signs of a feeding disorder is a failure to gain weight or grow at an expected rate due to inadequate nutrition, which can have significant implications for a child's overall health and development.
6. Family stress over mealtimes
When a child has a feeding disorder, it doesn't just affect them; it impacts the entire family. If mealtimes have become a significant source of stress in your household, it's a sign that it's time to seek professional help.
How feeding therapy helps
Feeding therapy can be a game-changer for children struggling with feeding disorders. It involves an interdisciplinary approach that addresses the physical, behavioral, and environmental factors affecting a child's eating habits.
Using a range of therapeutic strategies, including occupational therapy, speech therapy, and applied behavioral analysis therapy, PediaPlex addresses the multifaceted challenges of feeding disorders. Our approach looks at the child's overall well-being, focusing on holistic treatment.
Parental role in therapy
Parents play a crucial role in their child's feeding therapy. Their understanding, involvement, and reinforcement of therapeutic strategies at home are vital to the therapy's success. Our specialists at PediaPlex emphasize parental engagement, equipping parents with the knowledge and tools to support their child's feeding development at home.
Dealing with a pediatric feeding disorder can be challenging for any family. But with understanding, patience, and the correct therapeutic intervention, most feeding disorders are managed effectively and entirely overcome.
Call us or go online to schedule a visit for a feeding disorder evaluation at one of our Southlake, Fort Worth, or Frisco, Texas, clinics. The PediaPlex team is here to help guide your family toward a healthier, happier feeding experience.