Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID) Program

The Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (ARFID) Program at Boston Children’s Hospital is one of the only multidisciplinary programs in the country specifically devoted to caring for patients between ages 6 and 18 who have difficulty eating or feeding.

What is ARFID?

Children and adolescents with ARFID limit the amount and/or types of food they eat for one or more of the following reasons:

  • They avoid certain foods or entire food groups due to sensory features, such as the food’s appearance, texture, or taste.
  • They have a lack of interest in eating (low appetite).
  • They have a fear of negative consequences from eating, such as a fear of vomiting, pain, or choking.

As a result, children and adolescents with ARFID often have nutritional, medical, and social challenges.

How we care for children and teens with ARFID

If your child is over age 6 and has challenges with feeding or eating, weight gain, low appetite, fear of eating, or extreme pickiness, we can help. Our team of specialists in gastroenterology, adolescent medicine, nutrition, and mental health will evaluate your child and then develop a comprehensive care plan. This plan is aimed at improving your child’s nutritional intake to achieve healthy growth and address nutritional deficiencies. We also provide education and support to help kids and teens eat healthy, balanced meals without discomfort, as well as psychosocial support to help families navigate the social challenges associated with ARFID. We also coordinate with your child’s pediatrician when possible.

For children under age 6, we recommend other programs that are specifically designed for younger children, such as Boston Children’s Growth and Nutrition Program.

Our team approach to ARFID

Our base of expertise will help ensure that you have all the tools you need to support your child’s physical and psychological well-being. We offer access to a broad set of experts, including:

  • physicians who specialize in gastroenterology and nutrition, adolescent medicine, and eating disorders
  • psychologists who specialize in behavioral therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy for ARFID
  • clinical nutritionists who specialize in caring for children and adolescents with ARFID

Our team will work with you to determine the best plan of care for your child. Our goal is to ensure that you have a thorough evaluation and an action plan that is best for you and your child.