ARFID in Toddlers – Symptoms, Causes and Treatment

One problem you may encounter when feeding your toddler is his/her tendency to avoid eating specific types of food or avoid eating altogether. Although you may dismiss this as a common problem associated with toddlers, you may need to thick twice. Your toddler may just be having avoidant/restrictive food intake disorder (ARFID).

ARFID is an eating disorder associated with inability to eat enough food. Toddlers with the disorder only taste food before dismissing the same. This means that their intake of calories and other necessary nutrients remains very low, which leads to nutritional deficiency and delayed growth among other problems.

Onset of ARFID is similar to the usual picky eating common in toddlers. Your toddler may simply avoid eating vegetables or any other foodstuff. He/she may also not be keen on eating at meal times and may only taste food before losing interest in eating. When left untreated, the disorder can persist until when your toddler grows to become an adult.


• ARFID presents several symptoms that include;
• Extreme shyness when with peers.
• Low body weight.
• Increased irritability couples with excessive cries.
• Signs of isolation/withdrawal.
• General body weakness.
• Frequent vomiting.


The main cause or causes of ARFID is/are yet to be identified. However, there are several factors believed to contribute to development of the disorder. They include;
• Excessive heartburn and constipation.
• Allergy to food.
• Being male.
• Medical problems that affect the digestive system.
• Traumatic experiences associated with eating.


ARFID is a relatively new disorder that has for centuries remained unknown. It is very important that you seek medical attention just in case your toddler’s feeding problem persists to a point where he/she starts losing weight and appears malnourished.

The fact that ARFID is a new disorder simply means that no certain cure has been found. The only treatment currently available is aimed at helping toddlers develop interest in eating. Your toddler may be hospitalized in order to be fed through a tube until he/she gains energy. He/she is also most likely to given minerals and vitamins that make it easy for him/her to eat.

ARFID is a serious feeding disorder that can easily cause normal development and growth of your toddler. It is, therefore, very necessary that you address any signs of picky eating from the moment you notice the same.

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