home > speech therapy news and blog

What is a Pediatric Feeding Disorder?

December is Pediatric Feeding Disorder Month! That calls for a post on the subject to bring awareness to Pediatric Feeding Disorders and their signs!

What is a pediatric feeding disorder?

Pediatric Feeding Disorder, or PFD, is now defined as impaired oral intake that is not age-appropriate and is associated with medical, nutritional, feeding skill, and/or psychosocial dysfunction.

Children with PFD may struggle to consume age-appropriate foods or volume due to physical differences, medical complications, or sensory concerns. This can make mealtimes stressful and emotional for the child and parents involved. 

More information here:


Who works with children with feeding disorders?

Typically, speech therapists and occupational therapists are the professionals working directly with Pediatric Feeding Disorder clients. Though, it can be a team approach involving the primary care physician, GI physician, medical nutritionist, and/or pediatric psychologists.

What are some signs of feeding disorders to look for?

Occurrence of the following may indicate a need for an evaluation with a pediatric feeding therapist:

  • Ongoing poor weight gain (dropping percentiles, or losing weight)
  • Frequent choking, gagging, or coughing during meals
  • Avoids all foods of a specific texture (crunchy foods, soft foods, purees, etc.) or a nutrition group (meats, fruits, vegetables, etc.)
  • Eats less than 20 foods
  • Your child has a NG-tube, G-tube, or GJ-tube
  • Mealtimes are consistently a battle

Source: https://www.spdstar.org/node/1004

What can I do at home to help my child with feeding?

If you believe that your child may just be a “picky eater” here are some strategies to encourage better tolerance of new foods and textures.

  •  Establish a consistent meal time routine as opposed to “on-the-go” meals to set meal expectations. 
  • Get your child involved in the meal preparation process.
  • Explore new foods through smell, touch, and taste before expecting your child to eat the food at once. 
  • Encourage acceptance of new or non-preferred foods on his/her plate or at the dinner table. 
  • Develop healthy meal habits with consistent mealtime routines.

What do I do now if I think my child needs help with feeding?

Contact us today to complete a feeding evaluation.