Feeding therapy is more than just “teaching a child to eat.” Therapists work closely with patients and their families 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. The goal of feeding therapy is to help patients develop normal, effective feeding patterns and behaviors.
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.
- Difficulty swallowing foods 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.
- Frequently coughs when eating.
- Gags and chokes when eating.
- Frequently vomits during or immediately after eating or drinking.
- Refuses or rarely tries new foods.
- 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.
- Known to be a “picky eater” who eats a limited variety of foods or consistencies.