Feeding Disorders: Infantile Anorexia
Friday, December 21, 2012
This is the first in a series about feeding disorders as researched by Children’s National psychiatrist Irene Chatoor, MD.
Do you have a child who seems to want to play and talk rather than eat?
Children’s National’s psychiatrist Irene Chatoor, MD
, is an expert in childhood feeding disorders. In her book, When Your Child Won’t Eat or Eats Too Much
, she explains the basics of how to introduce healthy foods to avoid the development of a childhood feeding problem and also outlines specific feeding problems she has come across in her research.
Infantile anorexia is a term she coined for those children who have a lack of appetite, the onset of which occurs in infancy and early childhood.Signs of Infantile Anorexia:
- Small appetite
- Poor weight gain
- Malnourishment during the toddler years
- Difficulty turning off excitement, interfering with sleep and eat
- In excited state, do not recognize hunger
- Prefer playing and talking over food
Talk to your child’s pediatrician, if your child is experiencing any of the signs of infantile anorexia. Here are some helpful tips on treatment for this feeding disorder.Infantile Anorexia Treatment:
- Teach how to recognize hunger and fullness
- Establish a regular feeding schedule
- Allow toddler to self-feed with own spoon
- Introduce finger foods
- Eat meals together as a family
- Enact time-out method if the child wants to leave the table before everyone is finished with their meal
Setting specific meal times allows children to experience hunger and fullness, and eating at the table with the family gives them a good model of how to eat.
The time-out method is beneficial in two ways: 1) it’s important to use the time-out method for any distracted behavior at meal times, like running away to play or throwing food and utensils; and 2) it teaches the child to self-soothe, thus making it easier to settle down in all excited situations. The child will learn to calm his or herself to eat and sleep.
For more information on feeding disorders and case studies on infantile anorexia, read Dr. Chatoor’s ebook When Your Child Won’t Eat or Eats Too Much
About the Expert
Irene Chatoor, MD, is the director of the Infant and Toddler Mental Health Program at Children’s National. She is a world-renowned specialist in infant and toddler feeding disorders and developed the classifications for different types an treatments of feeding disorders in children.