Pediatric Feeding Therapy

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Our therapists work with children birth to 18 years of age, and caregivers to promote age-appropriate eating skills, behaviors, growth and development.

What health problems may cause feeding and/or swallowing difficulties in children?

  • Prematurity or low birth weight
  • Cleft lip and/or palate
  • Developmental delays
  • Sensory difficulties
  • Food allergies
  • Breathing or airway issues
  • Heart conditions
  • Digestive tract issues, such as reflux
  • Nerve and muscle disorders
  • Torticollis (tightness of neck muscles)

What signs and symptoms are commonly linked with feeding difficulties?

  • Delay in feeding milestones
  • Eating decreased amounts
  • Meals lasting longer than 30 minutes
  • Coughing, choking or gagging
  • Frequent respiratory infections
  • Wet or gurgly vocal quality
  • Difficulty coordinating sucking and swallowing with breathing
  • Irritability between meals
  • Food refusal
  • Negative behaviors related to feeding
  • Difficulty transitioning from tube or oral feeds

What problems may occur due to feeding difficulties?

  • Decreased weight gain or growth
  • Dehydration
  • Risk of food or liquid entering the airway (aspiration)
  • Anxiety at mealtime or resistance to eating

What happens during a feeding evaluation?

A speech language pathologist and/or occupational therapist will evaluate your child.

Evaluations typically include:

  • Review of medical, developmental and feeding history
  • Observation of a meal
  • Assessment of behaviors, positioning, food exploration, oral motor skills and food intake

What happens during feeding therapy?

Therapists will work to optimize your child’s feeding skills and behaviors. Sessions may address:

  • Positioning/seating
  • Food exploration
  • Strength and coordination for eating
  • Mealtime routines
  • Caregiver/patient education and support
  • Home programming

Why is a Modified Barium Swallow Sometimes Recommended?

This is a study that may be recommended to further assess your child’s swallowing function. A speech-language pathologist and radiologist perform the study in the radiology clinic. Your child will eat and drink, while the team views your child’s feeding and swallowing skills.

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