Pediatric Feeding Disorders
During a 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:
- Completing oral motor tasks (ex. chewing) with food and non-food (ex. teething toys) items
- Drinking thin liquids (bottle, breastfeeding or cup drinking)
- Feeding himself/herself
- Eating foods they enjoy
- Eating or touching challenging foods
- Responding to varied sensory input
Results and recommendations will be discussed at the end of the evaluation. Depending on your child’s abilities, feeding therapy may be recommended and home activities may be discussed/demonstrated. Individual goals for therapy will be developed with family collaboration.
What to bring to a pediatric feeding evaluation
To ensure the most accurate and complete evaluation, it is recommended that parents/caregivers bring the following items to the evaluation:
A hungry child: It is very important that your child is hungry during the evaluation. Children who are hungry tend to be more willing to eat in a new environment and try new foods.
Foods and drink items that your child likes, and those that you have tried that are not preferred.
Special foods, formula and/or breast milk: Using the foods they are familiar with is important.
Bottles: If your child is bottle fed, please bring the bottle and nipple used for most feedings.
Nursing: Please bring equipment you have tried or would like to try, eg. SNS, nipple shield.
Food inventory or diary: If your child is eating some purees (ex. baby food, applesauce) and/or solids (ex. cereal, crackers, pizza), please bring a list or a sample of 2-3 days. Download a sample Food Diary.
What to expect during pediatric feeding therapy
Based on the results of your child’s evaluation, feeding therapy may be recommended.
During treatment the therapist may work on:
- Oral motor skills (ex. chewing, biting, tongue movement)
- Breast and/or bottle feeding skills: Improving latch for breast and bottle feedings, Changing the nipple used for bottle feedings, Helping your child coordinate the suck-swallow-breath pattern better
- Cup drinking
- Eating foods with more/mixed texture (ex. mac-n-cheese, yogurt with pieces of fruit) or less texture (ex. smooth yogurt, pudding)
- Adding new foods to your child’s diet
- Increasing strength/endurance for feeding
- Increasing oral intake
- Increasing tolerance of messy play
- Self-feeding skills and using appropriate utensils
- Using optimal positions/seating during meals
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.