At Children’s, speech-language pathologists and occupational therapists work together to provide the best feeding services for your child. When you to call to schedule an evaluation, our intake coordinator will ask a series of questions to determine if your child should be seen by a speech-language pathologist or an occupational therapist. These therapists work closely with Children’s Feeding Clinic and if your child would benefit from a comprehensive, interdisciplinary evaluation, we will provide you with referral information.
In general, feeding difficulties are relatively common during childhood. Some children, especially toddlers, may be picky eaters and consume a limited number of foods, but the foods eaten typically span all the food groups and provide a balanced diet.
On the other hand, a child with a feeding disorder may present with:
Infants with a feeding disorder may experience the following difficulties during and/or right after feedings:
Typically, infants and children with a feeding disorder will have difficulty gaining weight and meeting their nutritional needs without the use of dietary supplements and/or special formulas.
When is a feeding evaluation recommended?
General guidelines for when to schedule a feeding evaluation include:
What to expect during a feeding evaluation
During a 60-minute feeding evaluation, the therapist will collect information about your child’s medical history, developmental milestones, current diet, and your current concerns. Depending on your child’s age and feeding skills, the therapist may also observe your child:
Results and recommendations will be discussed at the end of the evaluation. If your child is having difficulty safely swallowing liquids or solids, your child’s primary caregiver and therapist may recommend a videoflouroscopic swallow study. Depending on your child’s needs feeding therapy may be recommended and home activities may be discussed/demonstrated.
What to bring to a feeding evaluation
To ensure the most accurate and complete evaluation, it is recommended that parents/caregivers bring the following items to the evaluation:
What to expect during feeding therapy
Based on the results of your child’s evaluation, feeding therapy may be recommended. During treatment the therapist may work on:
o Improving latch for breast and bottle feedings
o Changing the nipple used for bottle feedings
o Helping your child coordinate the suck-swallow-breath pattern better
Depending on your child’s age and abilities, activities will most likely be completed in a meal-like setting (ex. highchair, seated at the table). However, the therapist may also incorporate play activities. The goal is to make feeding therapy as comfortable and enjoyable as possible for your child.
At Children’s, we believe that it is very important for families to be involved in all aspects of their child’s care. Depending on the child’s needs, parents are encouraged to view the sessions via monitors, observation mirrors, or in the therapy room. In addition, your child’s therapist will discuss progress, provide activities for home practice, and demonstrate beneficial therapy techniques to ensure maximum benefit is received from therapy. The therapist will also work closely with your child’s medical providers such as the pediatrician, gastroenterologist, pulmonologist (breathing specialist), psychologist, and otolaryngologist (ENT/ear, nose and throat).
Find additional information on feeding development, feeding tools and diagnoses commonly associated with feeding disorders: