Food Therapy For Toddlers

by Büşra Uysal

Whether it is ancient times or the present, what you eat is strongly associated with your health. So, food is seen as one of the sources for the curing process. However, eating difficulty is common among children. Preventing them from enjoying their eating may cause developmental problems. Food therapy for toddlers is a way to do something against them to avoid dealing with severe impacts.

What is Food Therapy for Toddlers?

food therapyEating can be difficult for children to use sensory systems which need exercise and coordinate complex face and hand muscles (2). Food therapy for toddlers benefits feeding difficulties such as sensory processing disorder, neurological problems.

Food therapy starts with an evaluation of children’s history of eating habits. It includes a child’s eating, medical history, sensory need to define eating difficulties to find treatment (2).

When looking for first intervention in eating habits, Chinese food therapy is well known for its dietetic practices in this tradition (1). Just as in old custom, food therapy, mostly called feeding therapy, also aims for a healthy diet.

How to Assess Your Child If They Need Feeding Therapy?

feeding therapy There are several methods to decide and start feeding therapy for toddlers3:

  • Standardized format questionnaires.
  • Parent-child interactions observation schemes
  • Interview
  • Referral sources (Verbal or written information supplied)
  • Determine current nutritional intake and oral-motor problems (Reports from dieticians or language therapists)

Why Does Food Therapy Be Crucial?

Feeding difficulties are common in the child with negative consequences of child’s development. Most of the time, those are resolved or treated through medical intervention and behavioral therapy4. Therefore, early diagnosis and finding food therapy for picky eaters are crucial.

When To Need Feeding Therapy?

picky eatersAnything makes you concerned about your child’s eating ability, nutritional needs, and effecting his mealtime5. On the other hand, eating difficulties have underlying some other problems. 

Feeding problems can be signs of sensory processing disorder that require finding the problem and intervention to prevent the worse cases2. Specifically to this issue, intervention would be sensory feeding therapy.  

Some other reasons to think about feeding therapy for your child are shown below:

feeding therapy infographics

What Does Food Therapy Work On?

food therapy working process

Depending on the child’s problem, pediatric feeding therapy techniques work on to develop skills as5,

  • Oral Skills

Any complication causes poor eating skills, like developmental delay, allergies, or illness. 

The feeding therapist works on gaining those skills, teaching children to control and coordinate skills in eating.

  • Food Familiarization

Includes broadening the type of foods children avoid. It will eat a more balanced diet and enjoy meals.

  • Improve Eating Experience

With having difficulties in eating, children are most likely to develop negative feelings about food and eating. That needs to change with good experiences to build up positive feelings towards food and eating.

To Sum Up:

Various problems can affect the eating of your child. Some of those problems are related to medical, motor skills, developmental or learned behavior. But what to do to deal with eating difficulties and prevent their effect on health? One of the behavioral interventions is feeding therapy. It helps identify the eating problem and find the best treatment for it.



  1. Whang J. Chinese traditional food therapy. Journal of the American Dietetic Association. 1981 Jan;78(1):55-57. PMID: 7217561.
  2. Magnificent Munchers (2018). An introduction to food therapy and how it can help your fussy eater. Retrieved December 3, From
  3. Linscheid, T. R. (2006). Behavioral treatments for pediatric feeding disorders. Behavior modification, 30(1), 6-23.
  4. Manikam, R., & Perman, J. A. (2000). Pediatric feeding disorders. Journal of clinical gastroenterology, 30(1), 34-46.
  5. CHOC. (n.d.). Feeding therapy. Retrieved December 3, From 

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