What is a pediatric feeding disorder?
By: Katie Filer, M.S. CCC-SLP
The skills needed to eat are a combination of intricate coordination. Feeding is the single most complex and physically demanding task an infant is faced with during the first months of life. More than 20 muscles are working together to move food and drink through the body from start to finish. Imagine a marble maze, if one part of your maze is off, the marble will not be able to find its way safely to the bottom. The same idea applies to your child’s eating! Pediatric feeding disorder, or PFD, refers to impaired oral intake that is not age appropriate and is associated with a medical, nutritional, or feeding skill dysfunction. For our kiddos with PFD, every experience with food or drink could be painful, scary, or potentially dangerous to their overall health. A team of skilled professionals will work together to assess, evaluate, diagnose, and create a treatment plan for your child. This includes, but is not limited to, your pediatrician, gastroenterologist, behavioral psychologist, speech pathologist, occupational therapist, and registered dietician. The team will rule out or treat any underlying medical issues that could be impacting your child’s feeding skills, and create a personalized plan for your child to become a safe and happy independent eater. Every child is different and this plan will look different depending on the goals you and your family set. The first step is reaching out to your pediatrician and being an advocate for your child! Please visit feedingmatters.org for additional information and resources.