Feeding disorders in infancy: feeding interaction concept in diagnosis and treatment

M. Keren*, S. Tyano

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


In infancy clinical manifestations of psychological distress are mainly somatic. Feeding disorders are one of the most common and nonspecific manifestations of different kinds of disturbed parent-child relationships. These disturbances may have their origins in the baby's constitution and physical status, in the parent's personality structure, or both, as has been conceptualized in the transactional model of normal and abnormal development. Among the daily interactions a baby has with parents, feeding has special inherent impact on the early parent-child relationship because of its psychological meanings. Therefore, feeding disorders, with or without failure to thrive, often reflect various disorders of infancy, still not well recognized in the medical community, such as regulatory disorders, attachment disorders, depression of infancy, disorders of separation-individuation, and post-traumatic eating disorder. 3 clinical cases are brought to increase awareness of psychological distress in the infant, and of feeding disorders as 1 of its manifestations. Each illustrates a different kind of feeding disorder in terms of etiology and pathogenesis. Through these cases we emphasize the need for a multi-disciplinary, integrative approach in diagnosis and treatment. Our conceptual background is based both on the transactional model of development (infant and parental factors impact on each other) in a very dynamic paradigm, and on psychodynamic premises. Intrapsychic conflicts and past representations impact heavily on the parenting characteristics. We emphasize the psychological significance of disturbed feeding interactions, with or without failure to thrive.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)193-197, 254
Issue number5-6
StatePublished - 1998
Externally publishedYes


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