Feeding therapy can benefit infants, toddlers, and children who have a variety of difficulty with eating and drinking. This can be related to limited food repertoire, weak oral musculature, medical complications, or sensory processing issues.
Some infants may have issues with breast-feeding and bottle-feeding including difficulty with latching or maintaining a latch, significant loss of liquid while bottle or breast-feeding, or an infant that appears uncoordinated or uncomfortable. An infant may appear to have no bottle or breast-feeding issues, however, are not gaining weight. Not gaining weight can signify an underlying issue that a feeding therapist can assist with.
Sensory Processing Issues
Sensory processing issues may lead to sensitivity to certain smells, tastes, textures, or temperatures. You may see a child gag at the sight, touch, or taste of certain foods. Other children may refuse to eat a food that appears differently than what they typically eat. For example, a chicken nugget from Burger King instead of McDonalds.
Oral Motor Deficits
Oral motor deficits are issues related to how the muscles of your mouth and face move and coordinate, and how strong they are. Signs that your child may have oral motor deficits include avoiding or spitting out chewy/hard foods, not moving their tongue from side to side while eating, or excessive drooling. We treat lots of children for occupational and physical therapy due to limited strength for their big muscles, so we shouldn"t forget about these little muscles that need to be strong to eat and talk with.
Medical complications that can impact feeding include children that aspirate-meaning their food or liquid is going down incorrectly and into their lungs, and/or g-tube placements, which is a tube that goes to their stomach since they are not receiving all their nutrients from eating. Dependent on your child, they may benefit from therapy to assist with improving their strength and coordination to safely chew and swallow, as well as reduce chance of oral sensory aversions when food is not eaten orally."