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Pediatric Feeding Disorders

Feeding disorders can prevent children from getting the nutritional value they need every day. If your child has problems with feeding, eating or swallowing, talk to your provider. At MaineHealth, our providers offer skill and compassion in caring for the youngest patients. Feeding disorders can lead to increase chance of lung infections. Talk to your doctor if you think your child may have a feeding disorder.

What are pediatric feeding disorders?

Pediatric feeding disorders are conditions that prevent proper eating and feeding in children. This can include selective eating and swallowing disorders that create eating challenges.

Pediatric feeding and swallowing disorder symptoms

Children experience a variety of physical symptoms that may hint at feeding disorders. Children may become irritable while feeding or show signs of problems while swallowing such as:

  • Stiff body during feeding
  • Irritability, lack of interest
  • Refusal to eat or drink
  • Refusal to eat certain textures, food groups, colors
  • Long feeding times (over 30 minutes)
  • Trouble chewing or breast feeding
  • Coughing or gagging while eating
  • Excessive drooling
  • Spitting up while eating
  • Pain or discomfort with eating
  • Breathy, gurgly, or hoarse voice quality
  • Difficulty gaining weight
  • Screening and diagnosing pediatric feeding disorders

Your provider will evaluate your child’s eating process and take note of any habits or difficulties. Children who may have feeding or swallowing disorders can also take part in different diagnostic tests, like a modified barium swallow or endoscopic assessment.

Treating pediatric feeding disorders

A combination of treatments often works best for treating pediatric feeding or swallowing. Family support is a key factor in treating feeding issues. Encouragement can help children learn which ways to properly eat and feed. Examples of treatments include:

  • Medicine
  • Physical or speech therapy
  • Breastfeeding or lactation support
  • Diet changes - texture, temperature, and food changes
  • Behavior and posture changes

Schedule an appointment with your child's provider for evaluation and treatment of feeding disorders.

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