Feeding and Swallowing Disorders in Children

When your child won’t eat, or has problems doing so, you worry how he or she will grow and develop. There’s hope for your child and support for you, right here. We’re proud to have one of the few intensive feeding programs in the country. Our multidisciplinary team of pediatric feeding specialists connects you with real-life solutions to your child’s feeding challenges.

Feeding problems are one of the most common areas of concern in young children. Problems can range from narrowed diets to total food refusal and complete dependence on tube feedings. For children who have either medical or developmental conditions, feeding can be an even greater challenge. Feeding disorders can negatively impact not just a child’s nutrition and development, but also his or her family’s functioning and quality of life.

Treatments for Feeding and Swallowing Disorders in Children

It's not easy for a young child to simply outgrow a feeding disorder. Feeding disorders are often associated with and affected by medical and/or developmental factors. Even when medical and developmental factors are identified and appropriately managed, children with feeding disorders often continue to struggle with eating and drinking in positive and age-appropriate ways. 

When traditional feeding therapy has not been successful, children may require more intensive treatment. Evidence strongly supports the use of interdisciplinary treatment approaches in overcoming significant feeding challenges. The Intensive Feeding Program offers this type of coordinated care, drawing on expertise from behavioral psychology, occupational and/or speech-language pathology, nutrition, and medicine.

Although specific to each child and family, the Intensive Feeding Program targets a variety of treatment goals including decreased use of or elimination of supplements and/or tube feedings, reduced or eliminated behavioral disruptions associated with mealtimes, broadened variety of foods accepted, increased volume of food/drink consumed, and enhanced oral-motor and feeding skill development. 

Depending on your child’s needs, he or she may participate in one of three programs, all situated in a fun, upbeat and developmentally appropriate setting.

Day Treatment Program
The day treatment program includes a minimum of three daily therapeutic feeding sessions with program staff. Day treatment occurs Monday through Friday and is typically completed in six to eight weeks.

Inpatient Program
The inpatient program is similar to day treatment but is designed to serve children with medical risk factors that require 24-hour care. Once a child’s medical needs stabilize, he or she typically transitioned to the day treatment program to complete treatment.

Intensive Feeding Program
This intensive program is ideal for toddlers and elementary kids with significant feeding refusal. Our team of children's health specialists, dietitians and nutritionists help kids overcome feeding struggles. Each plan is tailored to age and cause.

Outpatient Feeding Therapy
The outpatient service includes feeding therapy with one of our program’s speech-language pathologists, occupational therapists or behavioral psychologists. Sessions are approximately one hour in length and are typically scheduled one to three times weekly. In some cases, outpatient therapy may be recommended in preparation for admission to our day treatment program.