A child may develop a fear of feeding for a number of reasons. Recognizing the condition and identifying its cause can help to resolve the problem.

Fear of feeding may arise:

(1) after a severely traumatic episode (choking, etc)

(2) after painful or unpleasant oral procedures


Fear of feeding can also arise:

(1) in a child who is being tube-fed

(2) if eating or chewing are painful

(3) if swallowing is painful or difficult

(4) with disordered motility of the GI tract

(5) with food items that make the child feel sick


Steps towards resolution:

(1) To observe the child's behavior while eating in order to determine if there is a significant problem and to identify specific patterns while feeding.

(2) To assess the child's state of nutrition.

(3) To attempt to identify a child who may have an organic problem for referral to a gastroenterologist.

(4) To attempt to identify a child with an anxiety disorder for referral to a psychologist.

(5) To decide if the eating disorder is severe enough to refer to a behavioral therapist who can work with the child to overcome barriers to feeding.

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