Children’s Feeding Therapy in Illinois
One of a child’s earliest instincts is to feed itself. From babies learning to latch, to toddlers learning to feed themselves with their hands, self-sustaining oral motor skills are vital developments. These natural instincts bridge into a mastery of chewing and swallowing, forming the foundation of feeding skills.
If you have any questions about your child’s feeding skills and development, you should contact a licensed Feeding Therapist.
Why Feeding Therapy?
Feeding therapy is designed to bridge gaps between instinctual feeding reflexes and developmental skills. It focuses on improving oral musculature and habit formation, helping developing infants learn the skills necessary to manipulate food and feed themselves. It can also address “picky eaters” and children averse to unfamiliar food. Feeding therapy can help:
- Decrease Mealtime Tantrums
- Educate Parents on Feeding Techniques
- Improve Drinking and Swallowing Abilities
- Improve the Ability to Chew Food
- Improve Mouth Movement and Tongue Coordination
- Increase Exposure to New Foods
Does My Child Need Feeding Therapy?
Additionally, below are some common benchmarks to observe. If any of these benchmarks are not being met, it may be indicative of the need for an evaluation:
4 to 6 Months
- Babies are introduced to soft solid foods such as cereals and pureed fruits and vegetables
- Cup drinking may also be introduced at 6 months
6 to 9 Months
- Soft cookies may be introduced as well as ground or lumpy solids
10 to 12 Months
- Mashed or soft table foods are introduced
- Most liquids are taken from a cup
- Babies have a controlled bite and are able to bite through cookies at 12 months
13 to 15 Months
- Continued improvement is shown with biting skills
- Use of a straw or regular cup
16 to 18 Months
- More challenging foods are given that require chewing, such as meats and vegetables
19 to 24 Months
- More control is gained of cup drinking and biting of the cup is lessened. Children should be learning to drink in longer sequences with little or no spillage
- Children are able to manage any type of food they like as they have learned all the skills they need to eat every type of food
Feeding therapy can help children who:
- Exhibit an aversion to specific textures or flavors of food or drink and may become frustrated when new foods are introduced.
- Have difficulty chewing, sucking from a straw or bottle, or frequently have food falling out of the mouth.
- Exhibit weakness or lack of coordination in facial and oral muscles necessary for speech and feeding by drooling, being unable to manipulate food while eating, or having unclear verbal language.