Eating is a learning process. The goal is building a consistent lifestyle of feeding success that lasts a lifetime. The mouth is the first area of the body a child learns to control with a protective response. When there are feeding concerns the meal time becomes stressful, the feeder-child interactions become negative, and anxiety and fear increase. Behaviors of gagging, coughing, nibbling, reflux, and crying may appear at mealtime. These interactions escalate and lead to short-order cook parents with mealtime fighting and negative attitudes. Parents may fall into the habit of not placing a previously rejected food on the child’s plate again.
Health and nutrition are important for everyone. Nutrition and hydration always come first. Children who avoid whole food groups may have inadequate nutrition. A lack of variety in diet can impact health problems later in life. There are no quick fixes. This is a process of change. Implementing change requires patience and staying on course to achieve the goal of feeding successes for a lifetime. A program requires consistency with all caregivers. This may involve very small steps of progress over time.
Common feeding concerns:
Steps toward successful eating:
Helpful mealtime strategies: