Understanding and dealing with baby feeding aversions - Part 1

Posted by Kath Megaw on 07/04/2015

What is a feeding aversion?

It is very common for kids to be slightly picky about what they eat. Finding a child who enjoys green vegetables is certainly harder than finding one who doesn't. But some kids are more than picky eaters. Their aversion goes beyond normal choosiness and into an area where parents find they need to call for backup.

Typical aversion to oral eating and drinking and swallowing is defined by the child’s excessive or extreme and consistently negative reactions to requests to eat and or drink either any oral foods or such a significant number of oral foods that the range of their intake would not support adequate nutrition on its own. It becomes aversive when an impact or potential impact on the child’s health and /or nutrition results

Causes of feeding aversions

Feeding aversions can be caused by a number of different factors

Some limit their diets because they have problems with anxiety due to previously bad food experiences like Reflux or possibly prolonged hospital stays where they had to feed via a tube feed. Whatever the reason, the longer a child is severely picky, the harder it will be for her to try new foods. Like any other bad habit, avoidance becomes ingrained in her and her family's way of life. 

SENSORY FOOD AVERSION – is one of the most common feeding disorders during the first 3 years of life. That special time when kids learn to eat by themselves  and work out “doing it my way” with their parents and caregivers.

In the article, “Sensory Food Aversion  In Infants and Toddlers”, Dr. Irene Chatoor of the Children’s  National Medical Center, discusses the importance of distinguishing between kids with minor food aversions (“picky eaters”) and those whose reluctance to eat becomes a serious feeding problem. She describes a child with sensory aversion as having seven characteristics, including:


•onset during introduction to a new food,

•reaction being negative,

•reluctance to try new foods,

•dietary deficiencies,

•food refusal does not follow a traumatic event,

•food refusal not related to allergy or other medical illness.

Sensory feeding aversions

The most intense period is during the toddler years, when issues of independence are also at stake. Most toddlers vary from day to day on what they want to eat or reject. But kids with sensory aversion issues, are more consistent in their food choices. They will go for days without eating, if parents try to be strict. They become more anxious and tension builds for everyone in the family around mealtimes. They often refuse food from whole food categories, such as meats, fruits and vegetables.


Recipes that compliment this discussion:

Creamy quinoa breakfast

Squash and Courgette puree

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