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Poor feeding in infants

Definition

Poor feeding is when an infant has a lack of interest in feeding or a problem receiving the proper amount of nutrition.

Alternative Names

Feeding - infant's lack of interest; Infant - lack of interest in feeding

Considerations

Poor feeding is a nonspecific symptom seen in newborn and young infants. It can result from many conditions, including infection, metabolic disorders, genetic disorders, structural problems, and neurological disorders. Poor feeding is not a sign of the severity of the disease, but it requires close watching of the infant.

Poor feeding is not the same as "picky" eating. Many children between ages 2 and 4 are picky eaters. Parents only need to give children what they like to eat at this age. However, children must continue to drink milk or an appropriate milk substitute.

Common Causes

Home Care

Watch closely for the development of other signs and symptoms of illness, such as dehydration.

Also watch the child's height, weight, and general development closely for signs of malnutrition or failure to thrive.

Call your health care provider if

Contact your pediatrician if your child does not seem to be eating enough, is consistently losing weight, or if poor feeding is accompanied by other signs or symptoms.

What to expect at your health care provider's office

A child who is feeding poorly will often have other symptoms and signs that, when taken together, define a specific syndrome or condition. Diagnosis of that condition is based on a family history, medical history, and a complete physical exam.

Questions your health care provider will ask may include:

  • How does the baby (child) eat normally?
  • Has the diet been changed recently?
  • Has the baby (child) always been a fussy eater?
  • Is the feeding getting harder?
  • Has the baby been vomiting?
  • Does the baby have diarrhea?
  • Is there an abnormal stool color?
  • Is there gagging or choking?
  • Is there coughing?
  • Are there other symptoms?

DIAGNOSTIC TESTS

Laboratory studies such as x-rays, gastrointestinal (GI) studies, and blood tests may be ordered to confirm the presence of a suspected disorder.

AFTER THE OFFICE VISIT

Although the health care provider maintains records on your baby, it is a good idea to maintain your own records of office visit findings, test results, and your own observations of your baby's health. You should add measurements that you do at home, such as height and weight.

Bring your records to the health care provider's attention if you notice any problems, or if you have questions about your baby's development.

References

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      Review Date: 8/2/2009

      Review By: Neil K. Kaneshiro, MD, MHA, Clinical Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.

      The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- 2010 A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.

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