The goal of feeding therapy is to help children develop normal, effective feeding patterns and behaviors. Feeding therapy is more than just “teaching a child to eat.” Therapists collaborate with the child’s family to determine the source of the child’s difficulties and develop very specific therapies to make the entire process of eating easier and more enjoyable.
Eating is a complex task, requiring multiple systems in our bodies to work together seamlessly. Childhood growth and development is dependent on proper nutrition as an overall part of health and wellness. There are many reasons a child may struggle to eat including: difficulty chewing, difficulty swallowing, an aversion to food textures, mealtime anxiety, or a chronic health issue. It often requires a team to work together to ensure that each situation is met with the proper evaluation and treatment. Our Specialists in this area can work with the child and the family to create an individualized plan to fit your child’s needs.
Mealtimes are a great time for bonding and enjoying new experiences. Unfortunately, for some children, it can be a stressful and challenging time. If any of the behaviors below are affecting a child’s ability to safely eat, meet nutritional needs or enjoy the mealtime experience, the child may benefit from receiving a feeding evaluation.
- Difficulty chewing foods, typically swallowing food in whole pieces or refuses to swallow certain types of food consistencies.
- Refuses to eat certain food textures or has difficulty transitioning from one texture to another texture (ex: from bottle feedings to purees, from purees to soft solids or mixed textured foods).
- Gags on, avoids or is very sensitive to certain food textures, food temperatures and/or flavors.
- Struggles to control and coordinate moving food around in mouth, chewing and preparing to swallow food.
- Fussy or irritable with feeding.
- The child seems congestion during feedings or after.
- Refuses or rarely tries new foods. Considered a “picky eater”.
- Pushes food away.
- Has difficulty transitioning from gastric tube (G tube) feedings to oral feedings.
- Negative mealtime behaviors (infant cries, arches, pulls away from food; child refuses to eat, tantrums at mealtimes or “shuts-down” and does not engage in mealtime).
- Infant demonstrating signs of difficulty with coordinating the suck/swallow/breath pattern during bottle or breastfeeding.
- Feeding time taking longer than 30 minutes for infants, and 30 to 40 minutes for toddlers or young children.