Pediatric Feeding Therapy | Evaluations & Services | MedStar Health
Feeding Therapy

A feeding evaluation is designed to assess your child’s ability to eat.  Feeding evaluations are done for newborns who have difficulty with breast and/or bottle feedings. Feeding evaluations are also done for infants, toddlers, and children who have difficulty progressing to age-appropriate foods.

Feeding difficulties can arise for a number of reasons. Feeding difficulties can develop secondary to any of the following:

  • Developmental delay
  • Autism spectrum disorder
  • Hypotonia/hypertonia
  • Oral motor weakness and/or discoordination
  • Genetic syndromes
  • Prematurity
  • Sensory aversion
  • Nasogastric or gastric tube placement
  • Failure to thrive
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disorder (GERD) and/or other GI disorders

The focus of feeding therapy is manifold. For infants, our primary goal is to improve the quality of bottle and/or breastfeeding, while simultaneously promoting weight gain.

As your baby transitions to solid foods, many children have difficulty accepting textures and learning the appropriate skills necessary for eating and drinking.  Infants, toddlers, and children who have difficulty tolerating new textures, chewing food, and/or swallowing may benefit from therapy activities specifically designed to improve their ability to accept, chew, and swallow various food textures and tastes.

When to refer

A baby or child may need a feeding evaluation and/or therapy if one or more of the following is observed:

  • Difficulty bottle or breastfeeding
  • Inability to manage different foods and textures
  • Difficulty eating age-appropriate foods (textures and flavors)
  • Increasing negative behaviors (crying, screaming, throwing, head turning)
  • Losing weight due to food refusal
  • Coughing or gagging when eating or drinking

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