What is Feeding Therapy?

“Feeding Therapy” in its simplest form is when a trained occupational or speech therapist helps a child eat better, or eat a variety of foods. If your child only eats certain foods or dislikes trying new foods he/she may be considered a picky eater.
The sensory sensitive child may be hypersensitive to the smell, sight, or texture of certain foods which limits their overall diet and nutrition.

Feeding therapy is appropriate for children who:

• Are at risk for malnutrition or under nutrition
• Require nutritional supplements
• Have supplemental tube feedings
• Can eat by mouth but have weaning difficulties because of tube feedings
• Have swallowing difficulties or oral motor problems
• Have food aversions or display inappropriate behaviors that interfere with eating
• Have difficulty transitioning to age appropriate food textures
• Are challenged by eating/feeding utensils
• Show inappropriate weight gain (under/overweight)
• Demonstrate choking, gagging, coughing, or vomiting with eating
• Are having difficulty with accepting different textures of foods
• Are not accepting an entire food groups (i.e. fruits, vegetables, meats…)
• Have a food range less than 20 food options
• Fights with parent about foods or mealtime

Activities with your child you can start now at home:

• Eat dinner as a family
• Eat the same food you are giving your child. “Look Mommy likes it.”
• Do not allow your child to graze all day
• Remove distractions from dinnertime – turn off TV and put away phones
• Only introduce 1 new food at a time in small portions
• Introduce the new food at the beginning of the meal when the child is hungry
• Forcing them to try a food may have a negative impact.
• Try instead having them look, smell or touch a new food first.
• Give choices – do you want 3 or 5 green beans?
• Do not require a clean plate, teach your child to listen to their bodies
• Allow touching of non-preferred foods with fingers
• Discuss food properties, varieties, preparation and preferences
• Try variations of foods (cooked vs raw carrots)
• Try changing the temperature of the food (frozen, cold, or room temperature grapes)
• Try different dips or sauces that the child prefers
• Allow your child to be a messy eater.
• Read books about trying new foods, from your local library

Feeding Skills Checklist

Take a look at the feeding skills checklist. If your child is not meeting their milestones, give us a call.

0-6 months

Infant should be able to coordinate suck, swallow and breathing within a few days, without coughing, sneezing, or chocking.
• 3 months, the child should be able to take several sucks before needing to take a breath.
• 3-6 months a child should be able to drink a variety of liquids and temperatures, such a warm milk, cold juice, room temp water.
• 3-6 months a child should tolerate the taste of various flavors (NO SOLID FOODS YET)
• 6 months a child should be able to drink a variety of thickness, from think liquids to thickened liquids.

6-12 months

• 6 months child should start experimenting with pureed foods
• 10 months to 12 months. It is best to start with a really soft food (i.e. heavily steamed carrots) or food that melts readily (i.e. puffs or melts).
• 9-12 months able to drink from a straw and open cup held for them.
• 12 months they should be able to chew soft whole foods, such as bread, soft cheese, steamed veggies, and small chopped meat. (Do not introduce solid foods if your child does not at least 8 teeth)

12-24 months

• Introduce foods, at the speed that your child is getting their teeth.
• By age 2 a child should have between 10 -20 foods they enjoy, with at least 3 foods from each food groups.
• Child should be able to hold their own bottle, sippy cup, or straw cup.
• Finger feed themselves small foods such as puffs or cheerios.
• They can pour liquids with help.

24-36 months

• 20 – 40 foods that they eat and enjoy.
• Chew with a rotary motion of the jaw using their back molars.
• Use fork and spoon with some spillage.