Archive for December, 2009

Feeding Treatment Strategies for Infants and Children

Monday, December 28th, 2009

Determining the issues surrounding feeding difficulties helps to drive treatment goals. As a speech pathologist, with over 25 years of experience working with infants, toddlers and children, I’ve learned that understanding how the feeding issue has developed is key to understanding how to help. Feeding issues develop for many reasons. Sometimes definable such as prematurity, syndromes, cardiac issues, digestive and allergy related. Sometimes the issues are related to poor oral motor skills and weak oral musculature. For some infants and children, early difficulty with sensory or motor planning may be causing the issues.  As a speech pathologist my job may be to help sort out these issues. Sometimes we are lucky and can find the cause. At other times we must work knowing that we have not come up with the underlying cause.  However, despite not knowing the underlying cause, we can work on those areas of difficulty that seem to most impact the child and their willingness and/or ability to eat.

There are several dominant approaches to addressing feeding issues with infants and youngsters. I’ve found that approaches that honor the child, develop competent oral motor skills and develop confidence generally work best. This is similar to most skills we hope to teach children. Approaches that help allow the child to explore, practice oral motor skills such as biting, chewing, moving food in and out of the mouth, transferring food to the back molars and ultimately swallowing work well. Focusing on the eating itself is often too overwhelming for the child and family. Focusing on understanding how we use our mouth to eat often increases confidence in the child and family. Building confidence and success for the infant and child ultimately allows for progression in eating skills and the desire to try new foods. For some children with significant sensory issues, the progression can be slower. That child needs repeated exposure to new foods. Looking, smelling, touching and hopefully tasting over time. Patience and persistence seems to be the most important ingredient to helping children with feeding difficulties

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Wednesday, December 2nd, 2009

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