Feeding therapy is the needed treatment for infants and young children who are experiencing feeding difficulties. Because feeding difficulties can lead to more serious problems for health and development, it is important to address these problems quickly. If your child experiences feeding problems, it is imperative that you seek out a professional, such as a speech-language pathologist, who can help your child overcome these difficulties and get back on track for healthy development.
Types of Feeding Difficulties
There are many types of feeding difficulties and your child might be experiencing multiple difficulties are the same time. The following are common feeding issues in infants and young children:
- Reduced or small food intake
- Refusing to eat
- Being selective about the types or textures of food
- Having difficulty swallowing
- Delays in feeding development, such as moving on to spoon feeding
- Fear of swallowing or certain foods
- Tantrums at mealtimes
- Oral motor development issues
If your child is experiencing any one or a combination of these problems, then it might be a good idea to contact a professional who can diagnose the problem and prescribe a course of treatment. The therapist will be able to look at a number of feeding-related skills and behaviors to assess whether or not your child has a feeding difficulty and, if so, the nature of this problem.
Related Problems that Can Develop Without Treatment
Though it might not seem like it, feeding is a very complex process which develops skills that your child will use for many other functions as he or she develops. Because of this, difficulties with feeding that are ignored can persist and lead to other developmental delays or health risks for your child. Some of these can be very serious and include: undernourishment, oral aversion, congestion, irregular sleeping patterns, gaining or losing weight, and susceptibility to chronic illnesses.
What Parents Can Do
At-home feeding therapy activities should be administered in conjunction with professional therapy and be discussed fully with your speech-language pathologist or medical professional before implementation. Children who experience the quickest and most successful recoveries tend to be those who have involved parents. Ask your SLP or medical professional for tips on how you can further your child’s feeding development between therapy sessions.
If you are in the Chicago area and would like to have your child evaluated for feeding difficulties, Chicago Speech Therapy is an in-home speech therapy practice that caters to these needs. Karen George, or one of the highly-trained members of her team, can help you decide whether or not your child has a feeding difficulty and if so, design a treatment plan specifically tailored to help your child.