Feeding Therapy

Treatment for kids with feeding difficulties

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Feeding is an integral part of culture and social structure impacting how many of us interact with others socially. What events have you gone to that didn’t include food? Probably not many. It may be easy to brush aside feeding difficulties or hope they grow out of it, but when a child has feeding issues they aren’t able to participate fully in life events and it may impact their development and overall growth. Studies are currently showing that 1 in 4 children typically require some form of feeding therapy due to feeding concerns.

Causes of feeding difficulties:

There are a large number of reasons kids develop feeding issues. Each one unique to the child as eating is a very personal experience so there isn’t a “one size fits all” explanation. Some common reasons for feeding issues in kids include:

  • Sensory issues: Some children may have sensory processing difficulties, leading to aversions or preferences for certain textures, smells, or tastes and even temperatures. Sensory issues can create increased fear and anxiety around eating.
  • Medical conditions: Certain medical conditions, such as gastrointestinal problems, food allergies, or reflux, can contribute to feeding difficulties. Children with feeding tubes often struggle with transitioning to eating orally.
  • Oral motor issues: Problems with the physical aspects of eating, such as chewing and swallowing, can contribute to feeding challenges. This might be related to muscle weakness or coordination issues or tethered oral issues (TOTs) that restrict the movement of the mouth, tongue, and lips.
  • Behavioral factors: A child’s temperament, family dynamics, and even the parent’s approach to feeding can lead to power struggles over food which can lead to more issues.
  • Environmental and social factors: The eating environment can play a significant role in the child’s feeding development. Environments with increased stress, pressure or distractions can create feeding difficulties as well as negative models and attitudes towards certain foods as children mimic the behaviors of those around them.
  • Previous negative experiences: A child may develop feeding issues if they’ve had negative experiences with certain foods or if they’ve associated eating with discomfort.

Signs feeding therapy may be right for your child:

  • They have a supplemental feeding tube
  • Receive nutritional supplements
  • Are at risk for malnutrition or undernutrition
  • Swallowing difficulties
  • Oral motor difficulties
  • Have food aversions
  • Difficulty weaning from bottle
  • Difficulty with transition to textured foods
  • Have restrictive eating patterns that affect social participation for themselves and family

Concerned about your child's development? Immediate openings available for screenings!