Supporting kids with complex feeding issues

Parenting a fussy eater can cause stress and frustration, even for the most laid back of parents. Mealtime can see the kitchen table turn into a battleground, where you beg and bargain with your child to try their food, take a few bites, or simply eat some greens. It can be an emotionally fraught time for everyone involved.

This article explores strategies and options for providing nutritional support for children who, for medical or other reasons, are deemed ‘fussy easters’.

How do you know if your child is a fussy eater?

Healthcare professionals define a fussy eater as a child who shows some or all of the following characteristics:

  • only accepts a limited range of foods, often refusing foods such as vegetables, fruit and meat.
  • has a fear of new foods.
  • eats very slowly (longer than 30 minutes to finish a meal).
  • has a fear of new foods.
  • shows limited appetite.
  • balks at the shape, smell, colour or texture of food.
  • shows inconsistency with food choices.
  • requests the same food repeatedly.
  • engages in battles over food with parents.
  • has meltdowns or displays some level of anxiety when it’s mealtime.
  • refuses or is apprehensive in trying new foods.
  • is not motivated by or does not show interest in food.
  • has an appetite that may vary from meal to meal and day to day.
  • is distracted at mealtimes.
  • has specific expectations around food presentation e.g. will not accept foods that touch each other or prefers to drink from a specific cup.

There are a range of medical and behavioural reasons why a child may become a fussy eater. For examples, conditions such as autism spectrum disorder (ASD) or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) may cause rigid or selective eating behaviours.
This is where oral nutritional supports or supplements can be vital for developing healthy eating habits, increasing appetites and helping your child to grow and stay healthy.

Supporting children with complex feeding issues

Oral nutritional supplements are products used for oral nutrition support, with the aim of increasing nutritional intake, for example with fussy easters.

They are a treatment option for when a nutrition support need has been identified by a health professional.

Other nutrition support options may include dietary counselling, food fortification or Enteral tube feeding, depending on a child’s clinical need. Oral nutrition supplements are typically used in addition to a normal diet, when diet alone is insufficient to meet daily nutritional requirements.

PediaSure – Designed Specifically for Children

PediaSure is a specially formulated supplement for children aged 1–10 years at nutritional risk. It can be a regular part of a child’s daily diet while you work to establish healthy eating habits. It can also be used to supplement nutritional intake in-between meals or at snack times.

PediaSure contains all 28 essential vitamins and minerals including:

  • iron, an essential micronutrient that helps to decrease leptin, a hormone that suppresses hunger and can make kids feel ‘full’.
  • zinc, another essential micronutrient, helps to change the tastebuds, making food more appealing.
  • vitamins A, B, choline and magnesium that have been shown to support a healthy appetite.

PediaSure is available in a range of different formulations, from powders to ready-to-drink liquids and tube feeds, to cater for a variety of nutritional needs. It comes in a mix of flavours including vanilla, strawberry and chocolate and can be mixed into other liquids, smoothies or even added into cooking.

Supplementing your child's diet with oral nutritional supplements such as PediaSure may help you provide texturally consistent, complete and balanced nutrition to your child with sensory sensitivities.

Click image to download a PDF of the PediaSure Range Guide

Find out more about Abbott Nutritional Supports

Abbott nutritional supports that can help support children particularly children who are NDIS participants, through all stages of life, from young children to adults. Their specialised nutritional products can also help those with medical conditions and those who are tube-fed.

Please contact Surgical House if you would like to know more about Abbott’s range of PediaSure or Ensure nutritional supports for children, teens and adults and to request samples.

Click HERE to view the full range of PediaSure products available from Surgical House or click HERE to see the Abbott Nutrition PediaSure range card with detailed product information.

PediaSure is a Food for Special Medical Purposes. Use only under medical supervision.

If you have concerns regarding your child's eating behaviours, a GP or dietitian can provide advice and strategies to manage your child's nutritional intake. PediaSure is not intended as a meal substitute. Children require a nutritionally balanced diet.

Content for this article was supplied by Abbott Nutrition.


We recommend visiting the Abbott PediaSure website for full access to data from clinical trials and nutritional claims made in this article: https://www.family.abbott/au-en/pediasure/home.html If you would like more information or to speak to an Abbott product specialist please contact Surgical House.