When children are exhibiting challenging mealtime behaviors, they are expressing that eating is unpleasant or difficult for them at that time. These behaviors can often leave caregivers and families feeling confused and frustrated, affecting the caregiver–child relationship as well as the child’s thoughts and behaviors toward feeding. Feeding specialists can help work with the family and child to better understand the reason for these struggles and help improve the child’s feeding behaviors to improve acceptance of foods/drinks at mealtimes. This will also include modifying caregivers’ responses to the child’s behavior to promote a positive and successful feeding interaction.

Click here to view the PFD diagnostic criteria for psychosocial dysfunctions.

Who Can Help Assess And Treat

Various professionals can help assess and treat the behavioral component to a feeding disorder. Mental health providers are licensed professionals who can partner with other professionals on the treatment team to provide support for the child and family’s struggles with feeding. In most cases, they are a psychologist, behavior analyst, or counselor who have specialized feeding training. Social workers may also assist families with resources they may need to help be successful with feeding and other areas of concern. The vast majority of professionals have master’s degrees, and many hold doctoral degrees with postgraduate training. Click here for more information about each specialist. 

 To find a licensed professional in your area, visit Feeding Matters’ Provider Directory.

What They Do

  • Evaluate how both the caregiver and child are responding to the feeding disorder.
  • Evaluate mealtime behaviors and caregivers’ responses to these feeding behaviors.
  • Assess why the behaviors are occurring.
  • Determine how to motivate families and children to participate in the feeding process using various evidence based behavioral strategies.
  • Identify strategies that promote positive mealtime experiences based on evidence based research.