Many young children are thought by their parents to eat poorly. Although the majority of these children are mildly affected, a small percentage have a serious feeding disorder. Nevertheless, even mildly affected children whose anxious parents adopt inappropriate feeding practices may experience consequences. Therefore, pediatricians must take all parental concerns seriously and offer appropriate guidance. This requires a workable classification of feeding problems and a systematic approach. The classification and approach we describe incorporate more recent considerations by specialists, both medical and psychological. In our model, children are categorized under the 3 principal eating behaviors that concern parents: limited appetite, selective intake, and fear of feeding. Each category includes a range from normal (misperceived) to severe (behavioral and organic). The feeding styles of caregivers (responsive, controlling, indulgent, and neglectful) are also incorporated. The objective is to allow the physician to efficiently sort out the wide variety of conditions, categorize them for therapy, and where necessary refer to specialists in the field.
Keywords: eating disorder; failure to thrive; fear of feeding; limited appetite; picky eater; selective intake.
Copyright © 2015 by the American Academy of Pediatrics.