Feeding problems in infants can pop up when they are first learning to eat, or can develop later in life. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly when a baby begins to have problems with eating, because many of the early signs are subtle and easy to miss.
However, there are some obvious signs your infant may have feeding problems and the help of a feeding specialist could be just what you need.
Obvious Signs That Your Infant Might Have An Eating Problem
It’s natural for infants to be picky eaters. Just like adults, they have different preferences and tastes and don’t necessarily like the same foods. But there are some pretty easy ways to tell if your baby has an eating problem that might be causing him or her to eat less than they should.
Here are some obvious signs that your infant may have an eating problem:
- Isn’t growing
- Refuses to eat
- Crying or fussy at all or most meals
- vomiting during feeding
- Gagging 2-3 times every meal
- Difficulty moving food around in mouth (strength and coordination)
- Difficulty swallowing textures
- Is not transitioning to solid foods
- Eats only one or two textures
Subtle Signs That Your Infant Might Have An Eating Problem
It’s hard to deny that something’s wrong when you see your baby isn’t growing, or is vomiting during feeding. But what about the less obvious signs? When do you start to worry?
Here are some subtle signs that your infant may have feeding problems:
- Not eating a variety of foods
- Eats food that is generally one color (i.e. chicken nuggets, apple sauce, pringles, mac n cheese)
- Change in feeding behavior where they were doing well but stop engaging in eating
- Frequent negative Facial expressions such as grimacing, barring their lips, turning their head
- Spitting out food and turning away from food
- Note that it can be a sign of normal development if your baby is spitting out food but they are happy and still engaged in the feeding.
Common Things That are not Signs of Feeding Problems
When you start feeding your baby you may notice some signs that make you question if they have a feeding problem. But not to worry, these are in fact, not signs of a feeding problem.
- Baby makes a face when a new food is introduced
- Spits food out and turns head away
- Swipes at or throws food on the floor
- Gagging one time per meal
Parent Behaviors That Often Contribute to Feeding Problems
As parents, we do all sorts of things that may inadvertently contribute to the development of feeding problems in our kids. Here are some examples of behaviors that often contribute to feeding problems:
- Force feeding
- Feeding time is rushed and or distracted
- Not sharing food with baby
- Giving the same few foods all the time
- Parent decides baby doesn’t like a food after introducing it less than 10 times
What are My Options?
One of the many things to consider when you are a parent is how to make sure your infant is developing good eating habits. Here are some things that you can do:
- Coaching and education with Breanna (expert feeding specialist)
- This is a new alternative to traditional feeding therapy services offered in a clinic
- Talk to your doctor about options for clinic referrals and or early intervention in your area
- Specialists such as speech therapists or occupational therapists trained in eating and swallowing can help
Let a Feeding Specialist Help
If you’re a new parent, then you and your baby are embarking on an amazing adventure. You’re helping your little one grow and develop into a healthy, happy person—and that may be more overwhelming and exciting than you’d expect. How you handle this time will directly impact not only your baby’s eating habits but also how the two of you bond and interact.
Nourishing Small Voices is here to help! I’m Breanna Rose, and I’ve been practicing as a speech-language pathologist for 17 years. I’m also a feeding specialist and parent coach who focuses on helping families with issues related to feeding, behavior, and sleep. By helping parents to see their own strengths and challenges in this new role, we can work together to figure out what will work best for your family as a whole. Check out my Facebook page and send me a message or set up a consultation call and let’s discuss how I can help.