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Feeding Therapy

What is Pediatric Feeding Therapy?

Our feeding therapists provide skilled services to children with difficulties eating.  These may include problems sucking, chewing, or swallowing age-appropriate food safely and easily.  Feeding disorders may also include difficulties in a child’s relationship to food.  A resistant eater may limit intake enough to result in illness, malnutrition, or poor growth.

What does Pediatric Feeding Therapy address?

  • Swallowing disorders
  • Transition from Tube to Oral feeding
  • Sensory feeding disorders
  • Resistant eaters
  • Parent/Caregiver Education
  • Feeding Developmental Milestones

What Does A Feeding Problem Look Like?

First, consider what normal feeding looks like:

A child who eats normally is interested in food, enjoys eating, and feels comfortable after a meal.  From birth, a hungry child should calm when food is presented.  Children quickly learn the feeding routine and become excited when mealtime begins (getting into feeding position, or seeing the breast or bottle).   As they grow, they become more and more interested in food, watching other people eat, wanting some for themselves, and then wanting to eat independently.  A healthy eater will be smiling, interacting, and communicating while eating.

What are some signs or symptoms of feeding and swallowing disorders in children? 

Children with feeding and swallowing problems have a wide variety of symptoms. Not all signs and symptoms are present in every child. The following are signs and symptoms of feeding and swallowing problems in very young children: 

  • arching or stiffening of the body during feeding 
  • difficulty latching to breast or bottle
  • irritability or lack of alertness during feeding
  • resistance to or distress at presentation of food
  • refusing food or liquid 
  • failure to accept different textures of food (e.g., only pureed foods or crunchy cereals)
  • long feeding times (e.g., more than 30 minutes) 
  • difficulty chewing 
  • coughing or gagging during meals 
  • excessive drooling or food/liquid coming out of the mouth or nose 
  • difficulty coordinating breathing with eating and drinking 
  • increased stuffiness during meals 
  • gurgly, hoarse, or breathy voice quality
  • frequent spitting up or vomiting
  • frequent throat clearing
  • recurring pneumonia or respiratory infections 
  • less than normal weight gain or growth 

As a result, children may be at risk for: 

  • dehydration or poor nutrition 
  • aspiration (food or liquid entering the airway)
  • repeated upper respiratory infections that can lead to chronic lung disease 
  • embarrassment or isolation in social situations involving eating 
  • stressful mealtimes that affect the whole family