The term “feeding difficulties” is broad, and the severity and complexity of specific difficulties can vary tremendously based on each child’s individual needs. Feeding difficulties can manifest as refusal, selectivity, or low intake of food. The causes are multifactorial, spanning behavioral and underlying biological/medical conditions. Some of the challenges that lead to feeding difficulties in children include–
- sensory processing problems
- poor attachment
- difficulty coordinating suck/swallow
- poor suction
- selective eating
- restricted food intake
- tongue tie
- oral-motor impairments that can lead to aspiration and fear of choking.
The identification of feeding difficulties in young children is hampered by the lack of a globally accepted definition or system for classifying those difficulties. However, screening for and identifying feeding difficulties in children at the appropriate developmental stages is critical to providing support and early intervention that can result in better nutritional and socioemotional outcomes for children and their families.
Use the resources in this section to help identify feeding difficulties and better understand their causes and effects and strengthen support to children in need.