Pediatric Feeding Therapy

What is pediatric feeding therapy?

There is a great deal of overlap between both the diagnosis and treatment of pediatric feeding disorders and orofacial myofunctional disorders. One of the biggest differences is the treatment. Pediatric feeding therapy can be done passively, with little to no active participation of the client.

Pediatric feeding therapy is most commonly associated with the younger (0-4 years of age) and special needs populations. During treatment, the provider may harness the power of innate reflexes or sensory-motor mapping techniques to facilitate a desired oral motor response. Techniques used during treatment may include the use of tools (such as TalkTools), tactile and oral-sensory-motor cues, manual manipulation (such as the Beckman Oral Motor Protocol), oral-motor techniques, and the motor-kinesthetic approach.

Variations in swallowing function can be seen across varieties of textures, thicknesses, and complexities of foods and drinks. Our pediatric feeding evaluations may involve observation of different types of foods and drinks for this reason.

 

Who provides pediatric feeding therapy?

Our licensed Speech/Language Pathologist and Occupational Therapist are also pediatric feeding therapists and well-qualified to provide this type of treatment.

 

What are the benefits of pediatric feeding therapy?

Treatment in this younger population may:

  • Assist with nursing or transitioning from breast to bottle or a cup/straw
  • Improve facial proprioception
  • Develop motor planning and motor execution skills
  • Strengthen the musculature
  • Increase mobility and range of motion
  • Learn jaw grading and stability
  • Coordinate suck-swallow-breathe
  • Enhance nasal breathing
  • Promote nasal breathing and lip closure
  • Decrease aerophagia (swallowing of air), which may also help with gas, bloating, and reflux symptoms
  • Reduce oral transit time
  • Teach pre-feeding and feeding skills
  • Improve mastication/chewing of foods, bolus control and manipulation, and swallowing
  • Educate lingual and labial movements, including tongue lateralization
  • Lessen excessive tongue protrusion or “tongue thrusting”
  • Differentiate/dissociate tongue, lip, and jaw movements
  • Reduce or eliminate oral habits
  • Promote food transfer for nutrition and weight gain (may be done in collaboration with a pediatrician, gastroenterologist, or nutritionist)
  • Reduce messy or loud eating
  • Provide adaptive strategies deficits or developmental delays/disorders or utilization of adaptive equipment
  • Improve posture and alignment
  • Regulate sensory system and reduce food aversions, picky eating, and self-limited diets
  • Reduce gagging or vomiting
  • Enhance articulation skills (this may be specifically targeted by a Speech-Language Pathologist)
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