Pediatric Advanced Therapy specializes in addressing a variety of feeding issues using a multi-discipline approach that can include speech therapy, occupational therapy and physical therapy, depending on the determined cause of the underlying feeding issues. We are one of the only outpatient facilities that has dedicated feeding kitchens and feeding rooms designed to address all of your feeding therapy needs. Our staff is highly trained in various feeding therapy techniques and protocols. Below is a guide to common milestones and red flags in a child's feeding development. If you feel that your child is exhibiting any of these red flags or if you have any other concerns about feeding, please contact us to ask questions or to set up an initial evaluation.
Feeding Milestones and Red Flags
- 0 - 5 Months: Baby should be bottle and/or breast feeding. Some of the common red flags at this age include refusal of bottle or breast, vomiting, limiting of volume intake and prolonged feeding times. The amount of time it takes your child to breastfeed or bottle feed can vary,; however, In general , if it takes over 20 minutes per feeding, this would be considered abnormal and may be an area of concern leading to future feeding issues.
- 6 - 10 Months: Babies should be transitioning to purees and spoon feeding. Their oral motor movements become more voluntary, rather than reflexive. During this period from 6 to 10 months, signs for concern include refusal to spoon feed, minimal intake of purees, continuous head turn with presentation of the spoon and vomiting when eating purees.
- 10 - 16 Months: By 10 months, you can begin to transition your child to straw cups. It is also during this time that infants are lateralizing their tongue to move foods to their gums or teeth to munch them. Babies at this age should begin to eat soft solids. As they refine their oral motor skills, you should see your child begin to accept various foods and textures. At this age, some common red flags include not adequately chewing food, swallowing food whole, gagging on food, vomiting and still only drinking from the bottle or breast.
- 16 - 18 Months: Children should be eating the same foods as the rest of the family. Behaviors to closely monitor include only eating crunchy foods, only drinking from the bottle, a limited diet and refusal to eat meat. This could indicate the need for further evaluation of your child's feeding skills.
What Causes Feeding Disorders?
- Physical Pain or Discomfort
- Immature or delayed oral motor or swallowing skills
- Sensory processing issues
- Learning or behavioral issues
- Nutritional Causes
How Does PAT Treat Feeding Disorders?
Treatment of feeding disorders is done through a combination of medical treatment and therapy, depending on the cause of the disorder. It is important that the child is feeling well and stomach comfort is achieved prior to starting therapy. Once we are sure that the child is medically stable, PAT uses a multi-disciplinary approach that includes occupational therapy, physical therapy and speech therapy, depending on the child's needs. Treatment areas include:
- Best positioning/postural control
- Techniques to increase acceptance of textures and foods
- Oral motor planning
- Sequential Oral Sensory (SOS) Approach
- Oral Placement Therapy
- Neuromuscular Electrical Stimulation