“Okay, so it may not be behavior...Now what?
Updated: Mar 22
A quick review: At the beginning of this series, I started out asking the question, “Is your child’s “picky eating” just a behavior or is something else going on?” To answer this question, I started working from the top of the GI tract with the mouth and throat, moved through the esophagus into the stomach, and finally ended with the lower GI tract or intestines. In the medical world, often times a patient’s body is divided up into sections according to medical specialty. Other than our PCP’s or pediatricians, in general the medical professionals that we see are “specialists” that focus their practice on certain regions or organs within the body. As such, a complete understanding of a child’s selective eating often requires the input of more than one medical professional. These specialists may include ENT, allergy, gastroenterology (GI), and pulmonary, and with some babies and very young ones, we also have to consider cardiac when looking at a child’s eating and drinking. Phew, that’s a lot for just a “picky eater!” For most of us, our biggest challenge with eating and drinking is that we try not to eat too much or try to make sure we eat enough of the “right” foods while not overindulging in the stuffs that makes our waistlines bulge. Yet for some babies, children, and even adults, eating and drinking are ongoing challenges that may from the outside look like “behavior” or “choices” but are actually the result of hidden but significant medical issues.
So, what’s a parent to do? First off, you should talk to your pediatrician if you have concerns but be ready to push back if you are told that your child “is growing and gaining weight so there’s nothing to worry about” or “don’t worry they’ll eat what you give them when they are hungry enough” or even worse “no child will starve themselves”. Why? Because that’s a very old, outdated mindset AND, even more importantly, the newest research tells us that not only is this advice outdated and not based in science, but it is also incredibly dangerous and can put a child at risk.
So, what to do? Before you see your pediatrician or PCP, go to: https://www.feedingmatters.org/what-is-pfd/is-it-pfd/ and complete the 6- question screener. The ICFQ© 6-question screener is a quick 6-question screening tool that identifies and differentiates between children who are struggling with feeding from those who may be picky eaters.* After completing it, if you continue to have concerns, take the screener with you to your child’s doctor’s appointment and share it with them. If your doctor has never heard of Feeding Matters, encourage them to check out the website and to learn more about Pediatric Feeding Disorders (PFD). The Feeding Matters website also has resources for parents on which to find local providers that are skilled in treating PFD. If you’re out here on the Kitsap Peninsula, give me a call and we can have a consultation about it and together figure out if you need an extra hand or if perhaps just learning a bit more about PFD will allow you to work successfully with your child on your own.
The thing to always keep in mind is this: 90% of a child’s brain growth happens in the first 5 years of life. With this in mind, we want to make sure that we are giving that brain and body, the best nutrition available to us.
*For more information of Pediatric Feeding Disorder and resources on the web and within your community go to: https://www.feedingmatters.org/
For more information on the development of the young brain: