What is Feeding Therapy All About?
Feeding Therapy is a specialized type of therapy to help children develop the skills they need to be able to eat/drink safely and be able to take in the nutrition they need which is vital for their growth and development. There are different stages of development when children may struggle with their feeding skills. Below are brief descriptions of some common issues:
Breast & Bottle Feeding – Finding a way of getting nutrition is an instinct and skill that we are born with. This is why it is so common for babies to be given to the mother for breastfeeding almost immediately after birth. For most babies and mothers, this is a process that goes smoothly and easily. However, for some babies, and mothers, this does not go as smoothly as anticipated. There could be many reasons why a baby might have difficulty – and frequently, it is not due to a problem with the mother’s milk production. So, if this has happened to you, please don’t feel like this is your fault. All you need is the proper guidance and help to figure out what is going on. We can help. Contact us to set up an appointment.
These problems are not just for breastfed babies. Babies who are bottle-fed also may experience difficulties. Again, there could be many reasons why a baby might have difficulty. There are some signs which can indicate that your baby might be struggling (see the chart below for details). We can help you figure it out.
Transitions to baby food (purees) – Whether a baby has or hasn’t had problems with breast or bottle feeding, they can still sometimes struggle with feeding when it comes time to eat baby food/purees. It’s important to understand that all babies initially struggle with this new type of taste and texture that is being placed in their mouth. However, after a while experiencing this new item, most babies learn how to manage it in their mouth, and become more proficient at it. The problem arises when even after a prolonged introduction to this type of food, the baby can’t get the hang of it. Or, perhaps they gag or spit up or throw up excessively. If you see this happening, contact us to set up an appointment.
Transitions from purees to solid foods – As a child grows into a toddler and beyond, they may have difficulties with transitioning from purees to solid foods. This can begin even with the “stage 3” type of baby foods, where there are small pieces of food mixed in with the puree. Some children cannot figure out how to handle those small pieces and will gag on it or spit it out. Another difficulty can be when children may not chew foods well enough, and end up swallowing whole pieces. Or they may be putting too much food in their mouth at once. Some children may have had no major issues when they started eating solids, but they can start to show signs of struggling as the types and varieties foods they are given begin to expand.
Drinking Skills: Another difficulty that some children experience is that they may also struggle with weaning from breastfeeding or bottle-feeding and/or transitioning to drinking from cups or straws. If you notice this happening, contact us to set up an appointment.
Feeding Therapy works on these types of difficulties and skills that babies & young children may struggle with.
Speech-Language Pathologist & Feeding Specialist
Susan Rothschild, M.A, CCC-SLP