Nourishing Connections

Join the movement to better understand and support children with pediatric feeding disorder (PFD) and their care teams

By Jaclyn Pederson, MHI, CEO of Feeding Matters

As reported in the Journal of Pediatrics an estimated 1 in 37 children have PFD, yet awareness for the disorder has a long way to go. This disorder has a significant impact on the lives of individuals close to you, whether you are aware of it or not.

Did you know there are over 300 comorbidities to PFD? Learn about a family supported by Feeding Matters on their son’s Eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE) journey.

Meet 4-year old Ari who has PFD and EoE, an inflammation of the esophagus.

“I knew early on that something was not quite right with Ari’s feeding and nutrition. As a baby he was labeled with Failure to Thrive, Difficult Swallowing, Unspecified Vomiting and Malnutrition. This was difficult to understand at the time because it looked like he was eating enough but he would projectile vomit, choke and gag so much during feeding that I knew something was wrong.” -Ari’s Mom

Ari’s story is a reminder of the importance of early diagnosis and intervention for children with PFD. Despite the initial mislabeling, we find hope in the positive trajectory of his journey. Our mission is to create a world where children with pediatric feeding disorder thrive, and it all begins with better understanding. We are here to support children with PFD throughout every chapter of their journey.

From our CEO

As we see with Ari, there are so many more children like him and their families who need to be aware of pediatric feeding disorder (PFD). Feeding Matters is proud to collaborate with families, pediatricians, therapists, and care teams to address the challenges that learning to eat may present, including picky eating, slow growth, and mealtime difficulties. In this fall newsletter, we provide insights into underlying causes, debunk myths, and offer practical strategies for building healthy habits as children and parents learn the developmental task of eating together.

This special edition newsletter features a collection of recent guest blog posts that work to support families and raise awareness.  We are grateful to our entire Feeding Matters community for joining us in this effort.  As we head into the holiday season, we encourage you to keep these stories in mind and aim to be inclusive of all who sit down to a holiday meal with you; it may be tough for them to be there.

Building healthy habits: Stressful Mealtimes and Misbehavior

Discover insights and guidance for stressed-out parents navigating the challenges of getting their child to eat, feed and thrive. Dive into a discussion on difficult mealtimes, recognizing pediatric feeding disorders (PFD), and understanding the communication aspect of mealtime behavior. Uncover the potential causes of stressful behaviors and gain valuable resources to address underlying reasons in this powerful essay from Cuyler Romeo, MOT, OTR/L, SCFES, IBCLC, exploring stressful mealtimes and misbehavior.

Demystifying: Understanding the Spectrum of Feeding Difficulties including Picky Eating 

While picky eating is common during childhood, it’s important to understand when it may be a sign of an underlying condition like pediatric feeding disorder (PFD). Feeding infants and children may not always be easy, and some parents face struggles when their child does not feed well. Developmentally normative feeding behaviors, such as picky eating, can occur between 18-36 months of age, but clinically significant feeding difficulties can be more challenging to diagnose and treat. Read on to explore valuable information about picky eating and strategies to successfully handle mealtimes with even the most discerning eaters. Learn about the characteristics of picky eating and when to be concerned. Children with PFD may require medical intervention, and it’s crucial to discuss concerns with your pediatrician and access our many resources.

Join us in our Expert Corner with Mary Anthony, RN

Mary helps us understand slow growth and feeding challenges and the myriad worries beyond birth. In this helpful parents’ guide she underscores the importance of support for parents currently navigating slow growth and empowers us through strategies to improve feedings.

We are here for you.

In closing, if you’re concerned about your child, remember to trust your intuition and that there is usually an underlying reason when they struggle with eating or drinking enough for healthy growth. Talk to your pediatrician about pediatric feeding disorder (PFD) and consider using Feeding Matters’ Infant and Child Feeding Questionnaire© (ICFQ) to provide a comprehensive view of your child’s feeding behaviors. You can also find a feeding specialist in your area through Feeding Matters’ Provider Directory.

Remember, children with PFD may require medical intervention to manage their diagnosis. You don’t have to face feeding challenges alone. Feeding Matters offers numerous resources, including our family roadmap for support and peer-to-peer mentoring through Power of Two. Follow @feedingmatters on social media for more information and to get involved. We’re here to support you every step of the way.