As a primary care physician (PCP) my number one goal is to prevent disease, and in order to do this, proper nutrition is mandatory. This is true for patients of all ages but especially for growing and developing children. If you have concerns regarding your child’s feeding habits or eating behaviors, it is important that you discuss these concerns with your child’s physician. As a PCP, I may not be able to fix the issue myself, but it is my job to point you in the direction of someone who can (after ruling out any underlying medical conditions, of course). A feeding therapy referral may very well be what your child needs. Voicing your concerns to your child’s PCP is the first step in getting your child proper care that will hopefully lead to optimal nutrition and disease prevention. Below are ten tips for bringing up this conversation with your child’s physician:
1. First, do not dismiss your child’s behavior as normal! If you think something is wrong, something probably IS wrong (one of the most valuable lessons I learned in my medical training is that if you listen to the patient, they will tell you exactly what is wrong, i.e. the diagnosis…).
2. Start with when the symptoms began (one week ago, one month ago, one year ago?) and whether the child ALWAYS exhibits this behavior or only on certain occasions.
3. Be prepared to explain your child’s specific behaviors (the more specific, the better; jot the behaviors down in a notebook and bring it with you to the appointment, if that helps). Note ANY signs, symptoms, or behaviors that your child has exhibited, even if you don’t believe they are related!
4. Are there any patterns you have noticed with the behavior (it only happens with breakfast, only at a certain time of day, only when they’re with Grandma, only when fed broccoli, etc.) and is there anything you have noticed that improves or worsens the behavior?
5. Keep a log of the foods that are an issue for your child (also any patterns you have noticed here in terms of food type, texture, etc.).
6. Discuss how YOU believe this behavior is affecting your child. *This is important!*
7. What have you tried so far to combat or deal with the behavior? Has anything that you have tried seemed to help?
8. Be prepared to talk about the child’s social environment and any hardships in the household recently. A PCP’s job is to take a wholistic approach in considering what may be causing your child’s behavior and this includes accounting for not only physical factors but also emotional, spiritual, and social factors.
9. Does the child have any siblings with a history of similar feeding issues? Share this information! Also be prepared to talk about immediate family history of any medical conditions.
10. Be ready to provide a detailed history of the child’s surgeries, allergies, medication use, and medical conditions, including any issues with bottle or breast feeding. All of this may be known if you are already established with the physician — the beauty of primary care! 🙂
Jacquelyn Small, DO
PGY1 Family Medicine
The Our Table, PLLC Team also loves directing our parents to the Feeding Matters Parent’s Questionnaire – this is a short quiz that can be printed and taken to your child’s physician visit for further reference! Check it out here: http://questionnaire.feedingmatters.org/questionnaire