Infants and children love to eat as long as their digestive system is functioning normally. However, there are times that children develop conditions that causes them to refuse meals on a regular basis. When an infant or child refuse to eat their meals or snacks, meal time becomes frustrating for everyone. If you are frustrated with feeding your child, it is important to remember that aversions to eating are usually caused by eating being stressful or painful.
There are many reasons children develop problems with eating routines. However, a true aversion to eating and these are typically pain or stress related. If you notice your child developing and aversion to eating, you should take time to analyze their eating habits. If you notice any signs that appear to be distress, you should consider taking them to see a gastroenterologist Brooklyn NY. These signs include, but are not limited to:
- Squeezing their mouth closed when food, bottle, or breast is offered
- When their normal feeding position is achieved, they cry or fight
- They skip meals with little to no distress
- Shows signs of hunger but will not eat
- Will only eat, or only eat well when they are tired or already asleep
- Has stunted growth or failure to thrive
How to Handle Your Infant’s Feeding Struggles
There are many reasons your child may be refusing to eat. However, if you notice any distress with their refusal, you should have them evaluated by a pediatric gastrointerologist. Many children who develop aversions to eating are diagnosed with conditions like celiac disease, acid reflux, or even an allergy to a food common in their diet.
Make sure that you take the time to explain your child’s behavior when they are presented with food, and how they behave when they do eat. Many people feel that their child’s eating difficulties are just part of a “phase children go through.” Many parents feel that their child should see their pediatrician. However, most children benefit from seeing a speech therapist or occupational therapist to diagnose their eating difficulties. These professionals can also help provide feeding therapy, which is essential to reteaching your child the pleasures of eating.
How Feeding Therapy Can Help Your Child
You may be wondering what feeding therapy is, just like you should. Feeding therapy is a service that will assist in reteaching a child how to feed and helps them learn the best ways to feed.
The first step in feeding therapy is an evaluation. This evaluation watches your child for various difficulties in the feeding process, and their ability to feed. A licensed professional will watch your child as they eat, drink, and swallow. They will also evaluate how your child responds to various consistencies and textures. Your child will be further evaluated for their ability to effectively swallow food and drink. Some children face weakness or incoordination when they swallow, which may cause the liquid to transfer into their lungs. Many times, parents do not notice because their child does not cough in response to the sensation.
- There are many interventions provided by these professionals, including:
- Effectively increasing the number, and quantity of food the child eats
- Increasing the oral motor skills a child has to allow them better food movement and swallow trigger
- Increasing the strength of the pharynx to improve coordination. This will prevent aspiration.
- Helping parents to understand how thickening liquids may improve the ability to swallow
Typically, children will attend feeding therapy at least once per week. Each session should last between 30 and 60 minutes. Your child will learn a number of skills and spend a lot of time in feeding therapy. Because of this, you should make sure the experience is a positive one, and they develop a good relationship with their therapist.