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Evidence-based Strategies to Address Persistent Feeding Difficulties

 

Persistent feeding difficulties are all too common in children. These are conditions in which a child avoids eating or limits what or how much he or she will eat. This can lead to problems including weight loss, nutritional deficiency,  or problems with daily functioning. These difficulties may limit a child’s ability to participate in normal social activities such as eating with others, and disrupt family functioning. Feeding difficulties can be extremely stressful for the entire family. 

Key Indicators of Feeding Difficulties

  • Limited range of textures

  • Limited range of foods

  • Prolonged mealtime duration

  • Problematic mealtime behaviour

  • Family stress related to a child's eating patterns

Evidence supports the use of behavioural approaches in the treatment of feeding disorders. Behavioral treatment strategies may include a  modifications to the mealtime schedule and structure, behaviour management, and caregiver training. Behavior management techniques are designed to strengthen adaptive behaviours and weaken maladaptive behaviours (Silverman A. 2015. Behavioral Management of Feeding Disorders of Childhood. Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism, p. 33-42).