Speech Therapy to Address Picky Eating vs. Problem Feeding

Do you have a child who only eats certain things and refuses to try new foods? Does your child refuse to eat food altogether? If you answered yes to either of these questions, your child might be a picky eater or problem feeder. For proper physical, emotional, cognitive, and speech development, you need to ensure your child eats a balanced diet of a variety of foods that contain protein, complex carbohydrates, and healthy fats.

Symptoms of a Picky Eater and Problem Feeder

Being a picky eater or problem feeder affects your child’s development and can result in medical problems. As such, it is important to determine whether your child falls into one of these two categories so proper intervention steps and therapy can be undertaken.

If any of the following characterize your child, you have a picky eater on your hands:

  • Eats foods from one category or a few in each category
  • Has a limited number of foods he or she will eat (usually around 30)
  • Usually eats food from all texture groups
  • Will generally tolerate trying new foods
  • It takes anywhere from 12 to 25 steps on the Steps to Eating Hierarchy to add a new food to a picky eater’s food repertoire

If any of the following characterize your child, you have a problem feeder on your hands:

  • Not unusual that child cries or breaks down when faced with new food
  • Has a limited number of foods he or she will eat (usually less than 20)
  • Often refuses to eat entire categories of food textures
  • Often prefers food of one taste, such as salty or sweet
  • It takes more than 25 steps on the Steps to Eating Hierarchy to add a new food to a problem feeder’s food repertoire

The Sensory-Oral-Sequential Approach to Feeding (SOS) Treatment Plan

Whether your child falls into the picky eater category or the problem feeder category, the treatment options are the same. The intervention approach preferred by pediatric therapists is called the Sensory-Oral-Sequential Approach to Feeding (SOS). The above mentioned Steps to Eating Hierarchy is the basis of SOS.

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"Elizabeth was an incredibly communicative and supportive therapist for our daughter. We saw impressive improvement quickly, and our 2yo often looked forward to their weekly sessions. Our daughter just graduated from speech and we're so grateful for Elizabeth's expertise, empathy, and support over the past year!"

"We had the most wonderful experience with Chicago Speech Therapy! Our speech pathologist, Miss Megan, developed a bond with our son almost immediately. By week two, he would await her arrival by the window in our front door! She quickly discovered all of his favorite things and would bring so many toys of her own that would keep him engaged and wanting to talk! She gave us (parents) tons of strategies to work with on our own in between her weekly visits. Our son made consistent progress under her care and has now been released from speech therapy ~ which actually makes us so sad ~ simply because we miss Miss Megan! She basically became part of our family and will be dearly missed. I couldn’t recommend Miss Megan and Chicago Speech Therapy more!"

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Our expert speech-language pathologists are equipped to address a wide range of communication challenges, providing tailored solutions for each child's unique needs. From early language development to complex communication disorders, we offer comprehensive support at every stage of your child's journey.