Has your child refused transitioning to solids? Is your child a severely picky eater? Do mealtimes
take longer than 30 minutes? Does your child cough or choke during or after a meal? Are
mealtimes a battle between you and your child?
If you answered yes to one or more of these questions, your child may benefit from a feeding
and swallowing evaluation.
Pediatric feeding therapy includes the assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of infants and
children with swallowing and feeding disorders. A child may have a swallowing and feeding
disorder if they are medically complex, are developmentally disabled, have a genetic syndrome
or neurological disorder, have sensory issues, structural abnormalities, or behavioral
challenges. Your child should be referred for a feeding evaluation if you notice he/she having
difficulty chewing foods, difficulty swallowing foods or refusing to swallow specific
textures/consistencies, or is gaging on certain textures, temperatures, and/or flavors.
If your child struggles to control food once it is in their mouth, coughs or chokes during or after
eating, demonstrates negative behaviors during mealtime, or takes longer than 30 minutes to
eat a meal a feeding evaluation would be beneficial for your child and your family.
The primary goals of feeding and swallowing intervention for children are to support safe and
adequate nutrition, determine the least restrictive diet for a child, work with the child’s family
and caregivers to provide and follow a home program, and to maximize quality of life. We
teach oral feeding skills including proper lip closure, chewing patterns, sipping, swallowing, and
adequate coordination for eating and drinking. Feeding therapy can help grow your child’s food
repertoire by guiding the child through fun and exciting experiences with new foods. Children
who have sensory aversions or a limited exposure to a variety of foods can be taught skills to
reduce their sensitivities to new foods and textures.
Our team of therapists is able to provide prevention information to families of children who
may be at risk for pediatric feeding and swallowing disorders such as picky eaters, children who
are or were dependent on tube feedings, and/or infants who are having difficulty sucking for
various reasons. We conduct a comprehensive assessment of what your child is currently
accepting, evaluate how mealtimes are managed both by the individual client and their
families, and recommend a safe swallowing and feeding plan for the child. The family and
caregivers play a crucial role when feeding therapy is being provided. Strategies are taught
during sessions, but must be implemented at home to increase generalization of skills. Working
as a team, the therapists and caregivers decide on an action plan that will include goals and
how to target them.
While you wait for a feeding evaluation appointment, there are things that you can do at home
to guide your child in the right direction during mealtimes. Be positive, fun, and creative. Use
cookie cutters to create fun shapes out of colorful foods. Involve your child in the preparation
of meals. Model good eating yourself, have a wide variety of food and stay away from eating in
front of the television. Be consistent with mealtimes and establish a routine. Don’t force your
child to eat, but do encourage trying new things and keep offering it; it may take some time for
your child to accept. A skilled Speech Language Pathologist or Occupational Therapist will be
able to provide you with more detailed and specific tip\s once the evaluation has been