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Pediatric Feeding Therapy

Siskin Children’s Institute is proud to offer pediatric feeding services to children
and families in Chattanooga. This program is sponsored by the Rotary Club of Chattanooga.

What Is Feeding Therapy?

Any parent of young children can tell you that mealtimes can be a struggle. But when those feeding challenges impact your child’s health and ability to thrive, your child may benefit from pediatric feeding therapy.

Pediatric feeding therapy is a type of therapy that helps children with feeding difficulties such as issues with breast or bottle feeding, transitioning to solid foods, and picky eating. The goal of pediatric feeding therapy is to help children develop the skills and behaviors necessary to eat a healthy and varied diet.

Make a Referral

Therapy Service Providers

Meet Letty and discover how Siskin is helping her reach her goals.

When Letty was first born she didn’t eat well. Her parents were worried and knew something was wrong.

At five weeks old Letty was diagnosed with pyloric stenosis. Letty would later develop erosive esophagitis which created a food aversion. By five months old Letty decided that it hurt too much to eat and she wasn’t going to eat anymore. Letty’s family was worried and needed to find help for the daughter.

Then they were referred to Siskin Children’s Institute. At Siskin, Letty’s parents worked with the therapy team to get the services they need. Now Letty is showing improvements everyday and has the support she needs to grow.

Feeding Therapy at Siskin

Siskin Children’s Institute takes a multidisciplinary approach to assess and treat feeding difficulties in children. Our team comprises pediatric feeding specialists from the disciplines of speech-language pathology, occupational therapy, and behavioral psychology/behavior analysis. We work closely with other specialties, including gastroenterology, allergy/immunology, neurology, and pediatrics to assess factors impacting feeding. Our team is dedicated to understanding your child’s challenges and developing an individualized treatment plan.
Who has feeding disorders?

There are a number of medical, nutritional, developmental/skill, and psycho-social factors that can contribute to the onset of a feeding disorder. Some common conditions that co-occur with feeding disorders include:

  • Avoidant restrictive food intake disorder (ARFID)
  • Behavior challenges
  • Delayed exposure to a variety of foods
  • Developmental disabilities such as autism
  • Duodenitis, or inflammation of the lining of a part of the small intestine
  • Esophagitis, or inflammation of the esophagus
  • Failure to thrive
  • Food allergies
  • Gastritis
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease
  • Motility disorders
  • Oral motor dysfunction (dysphagia, swallowing problems)
  • Palate defects
  • Prematurity
What does the first appointment look like?

The purpose of your first appointment is to gather information related to the child’s developmental, medical, feeding, and social history and a family mealtime observation. Your child will be evaluated by one or more members of our team, who will also consult with other professionals to ensure that the child is medically stable and safe for intervention. Following the initial evaluation, our team will provide individualized treatment recommendations. Many children will receive ongoing therapy from one or more clinicians to work toward improved feeding.

What are the goals of feeding therapy?

Treatment goals are individualized to the child’s needs and family priorities. The team will work with you to identify clear and measurable goals for treatment that will allow you to objectively track treatment progress. Treatment goals for your child may include the following:

  • Decrease enteral tube feedings
  • Increase oral intake of solids and/or liquids
  • Decrease refusal or problem behavior at mealtime
  • Increase variety and/or texture of solid foods
  • Improve skills, independence, and flexibility within the meal routine
  • Caregiver coaching to develop a mealtime structure or routine
What does feeding therapy look like?

Pediatric feeding specialists use a wide variety of strategies to help children overcome feeding challenges, including:

  • Sensory exploration. Encouraging the child to touch, smell, and taste different foods to increase their familiarity and acceptance.
  • Oral-motor exercises. Helping the child develop the strength, coordination, and control of their mouth muscles for improved eating and swallowing.
  • Behavior modification. Teaching the child positive behaviors and routines around mealtimes and working with parents to create a supportive environment for the child’s eating.
  • Feeding equipment and positioning. Using specialized equipment or positioning techniques to support the child’s feeding needs.
How do outpatient services work?

Siskin’s outpatient services typically include 1–3 appointments per week. These appointments will occur onsite for children whose mealtime behavior is challenging but does not impact the child’s nutritional status. These sessions involve a combination of direct therapy with the child to develop routines and skills as well as caregiver coaching/consultation. Telehealth services may be incorporated following the demonstration of treatment gains in the clinic and the completion of hands-on caregiver training.

Take the First Step

If you have concerns about your child’s eating, ask your pediatrician about a referral to Siskin today. We look forward to meeting you!

Make a Referral