Feeding Therapy

Feeding Therapy

Pediatric Feeding Disorders

Feeding is a special bonding time for both the child and the caregiver. When this everyday activity is disrupted by a child who has feeding challenges, it often takes a team approach to determine the best plan to meet both the nutritional and emotional components of feeding.

Our staff works closely with family, physicians and other team members to address all areas of need, from sensory issues to motor control issues.

Pediatric feeding disorders

If your child is not maintaining a healthy weight or has nutritional deficiencies, it can affect their growth and development. It can also be stressful on you as a parent because it makes mealtime frustrating.

Some common signs of pediatric feeding disorders include:

  • Refusal to try new foods
  • Trouble chewing or swallowing
  • Aversion to certain food textures
  • Gagging or vomiting
  • Tantrums at mealtime

There can be many causes of pediatric feeding disorders including food allergies, palate defects, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), delayed exposure to different foods, digestive disorders or conditions such as autism spectrum disorders.

Pediatric feeding therapy

Before any pediatric feeding therapy is provided, we consult with your child’s pediatrician to ensure that it is safe for them to feed orally. Even if it is determined that it is not safe, they may still benefit from feeding therapy to improve their oral abilities and oral exploration, which are essential to other developmental skills. As they grow and mature, it may become safe for them to eat at a later time.

Parents should also be prepared to participate in the treatment process. You will be taught how to implement appropriate feeding techniques and routines at home to help improve progress.

Therapists and parents work together towards achieving goals for the child. Caregivers spend 10-15 minutes per day conducting feeding therapy, adhering to a daily routine.

While every child is different,

typical pediatric feeding therapy program goals include:
  • Increasing variety and volume of solid foods and liquids accepted
  • Increasing texture of solid foods accepted
  • Increasing self-feeding skills
  • Decreasing meal duration
  • Decreasing disruptive mealtime behaviors (e.g., crying, screaming, hitting, throwing food, spitting)

With the right treatment and support, mealtimes can be more enjoyable and beneficial for your child. They’ll be eating a wider variety of foods with less disruptions and better meeting their nutritional needs.

Feeding: Typical Development

Below are the typical development / feeding milestones from birth to 30 months. Check to see if your child is in the suggested milestone for feeding. The below information was received from telability.org.
AgeMilestonesFood TypeQuantityMethod
0 to 3
Rhythmic / Reflexive
Milk (formula or breast)
2 to 6 oz/feed
6+ feeds/day
Breast or bottle
4 to 6
Sucking replaces suckle
Phastic bite decreases
Munching emerges
Milk (formula or breast)
Pureed Foods
9 to 10 oz/feed
4 to 6 feeds/day
Breast or bottle
7 to 9
Active lip closure
Munching on soft solids
Finger feeding (rakes food)
Cup drinking
Mouthing toys
Begin side-to-side tongue movements (laterilization)
Milk (formula or breast)
Baby Cereals
11+ oz/feed
4 to 6 feeds/day
10 to 12 monthsControlled bite/munching
Graded mouth opening
Moves food from midline to sides of mouth
All of the above plus ground/mashed11+ oz/feed
4 to 6 feeds/day
12 to 15 monthsRefine tongue laterilization
Licking food off lips
Brings filled spoon to mouth
All of the above plus finely chopped
15 to 18 monthsChews with lips closed
Upper teeth clean lower lip
Feeds messily with spoon
All of the above plus table foodsCup
24 to 30 monthsDecreased/absent drooling
Eats well with spoon
Rotary jaw movement for chewing
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