Kids Eat and Outpatient Feeding
This program provides evaluation and treatment for children with growth, swallowing, or behavioral feeding disorders. The children served by this program are those with one or more of the following:
- Limited or poor oral intake
- Food refusal
- Slow or inadequate weight gain/Failure to thrive
- Problems tolerating tube feedings
- Suspected or known aspiration or difficulty protecting airway
- Sensory problems (negatively affecting feeding or mealtimes)
- Swallowing and chewing difficulties
- Lack of texture advancement
The Kids Eat team provides a multidisciplinary evaluation of oral feeding problems and a comprehensive treatment plan, including follow-up and therapy. The Kids Eat team at WFBH treats patients with feeding difficulties from infants to adolescents.
The team is headed by Dr. Mary Christiaanse, Developmental Pediatrician specializing in Child Development and Developmental Disabilities. The other team members include a:
A Speech-language pathologist (SLP) evaluates the child's overall oral-motor skills, oral sensory component and swallowing safety. If necessary, the SLP may recommend further assessment of the oral and pharyngeal stages of the swallow through a pharyngeal function evaluation or modified barium swallow (MBS) study. This is a radiographic study looking at all structures involved in swallowing. A swallow study is useful in evaluating how food moves from the mouth to the esophagus and in identifying aspiration. Aspiration occurs when food or liquid is entering the airway instead of the esophagus.
A registered dietitian assesses the child's growth history, current nutritional status, and adequacy of feedings.
An occupational therapist evaluates positioning and self feeding ability affecting mealtime. The therapist may also assess the oral-sensory or oral motor component of the feeding.
The Hearing and Speech Department at WFBH provides outpatient Speech Pathology services for families whose infants or children experience feeding difficulties.
Caring for a child who has feeding problems can be overwhelming.
Symptoms of children who experience feeding or swallowing disorders can include:
- Failure to gain weight
- Difficulty with sucking, swallowing, or breathing while breast or bottle feeding
- Refusal of liquid or food
- Coughing or gagging while eating meals or drinking liquids
- Failure to accept different textures of food during meals
- Vomiting during or after a meal
- Difficulty chewing
- Difficulty drinking from a cup or straw
Children are at risk for developing pneumonia or dehydration and could have difficulty growing.
The Pediatric Speech-language pathologists at WFBH are highly trained specialists who can evaluate your child's current feeding status. A treatment plan will be designed to address your child's feeding issues. Treatment may include weekly therapy visits, monthly monitoring, or consultative visits. Strategies for the family to implement into their home environment will be provided after the initial evaluation and after each visit. The Pediatric Speech-language pathologists will closely work with your child's doctors and other specialists during treatment.