The Feeding Frenzy
Over the last year, therapists are not the only ones who have been asking questions regarding early intervention. Parents have often written in and asked pressing questions regarding their child's speech and feeding skills and development.
Today's post, "Feeding Frenzy" addresses feeding, of course, but also the often frenetic feelings that feeding a child who is struggling can evoke in the people who love them most: mom and dad.
Here is today's reader question:
I have a 16 month old who is just starting feeding therapy. She hardly chews her food, won't try/eat certain foods, has multiple food allergies, and gags/chokes. She won't sit in the chair. I've been doing lots of research about feeding and I tried to implement some things at home. We picked lunch to be the time to do it. She had severe reflux as an infant and she's still on Prevacid so we think this has been all caused by reflux because she had bottle aversion too (now she drinks willingly out of a bottle). We are keeping her on the bottle because she drinks hypoallergenic formula and it's the only way she will drink it. She does use a straw sippy cup for water. Do you have any other tips, ideas on how to get her to chew? We are having some issues with our ST, we don't agree with some of the things she is telling us to do.
- My first question is what is your ST recommending and what are your concerns about what she has advised you to do? Try to keep an open mind regarding the strategies that could help your daughter! Although there is also nothing wrong with questioning techniques to ensure that they are appropriate for your child.
- Next, I think it sounds as though your daughter could possibly benefit from a combination of both sensory-based and behavior-based feeding therapy. Sensory work will address the food aversions and doing some behavior modifications will help with getting her to sit down and enjoy eating. A nice and somewhat subtle way to address these concerns is to involve your daughter in simple food creation (i.e. make easy foods such as pudding or applesauce). Also, eat with your daughter so that she sees you tasting and enjoying a variety of foods and flavors.
- In addition, has the ST started to do some oral motor work with your daughter? Oral motor work will help to directly address the chewing. There are various oral motor toys and tools that we use in speech therapy that can all assist in helping to strengthen a child's jaw and their ability to chew (ie. A nuk, chew cord, etc.).
- Finally, we have published numerous posts over the past year that address feeding related issues, so please refer back to earlier entries for additional tips. In November 2008, we published a post entitled Recipes for Toddlers which you may find helpful as well.