When Eating Habits Go Beyond Picky, Consider Feeding Therapy

It may not seem intuitive to think about a child’s inability to eat meals. In last Monday’s article, we discussed the common issues that are present when a child is a picky eater. However, there are circumstances when eating challenges are beyond “picky” and the abilities of a child or parent.  In these situations, visit your pediatrician and give thought to a pediatric feeding therapist, such as the Theraplay practice here in Sanford.

Feeding problems are sometimes referred to as dysphagia, and can have several root causes.

Sometimes children have physical discomfort. When kids have acid reflux or similar conditions, it becomes easy to associate eating with an unpleasant or painful experience. Medication can relieve the discomfort, but sometimes additional therapy is needed to overcome the emotional aspects.

Sometimes children have physical limitations. Oral motor delays and swallowing issues can make it physically difficult for some children children to eat.  If your child has frequent coughing or choking spells during meals, it is critical to schedule a check up as soon as possible.

Sometimes children have additional challenges. If meal times are stressful, or if a child is facing other physical, mental or emotional issues, these circumstances can often manifest themselves in eating behavior as well.

Experienced therapists are skilled at identifying the specific issues a child faces, and at devising a plan that can lead to eating in a healthy and positive manner. It’s important to understand that, although eating seems second nature to most, it is a learned experience.  Particularly for young children who have found eating difficult or unpleasant, it takes time to achieve success. But with a well thought out, step-by-step approach, it is possible to celebrate a series of accomplishments and help your child master this important part of life.