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Your Baby/Child's Feeding Development: Beyond Weight Gain

Two things can be true.

Your baby can be showing progress on the growth chart AND be exhibiting signs and symptoms of a pediatric feeding disorder/difficulties. I have encountered many tired parents. who have a child/infant who struggles with feeding issues but are not referred to a specialist since the child is gaining weight. Your child/ baby's feeding development goes beyond weight gain. This can be a big miss that can lead to further feeding issues in the course of time.

Based on my experience as a pediatric feeding therapist,  I can confidently say that the sooner feeding therapy is initiated, the better (especially after TOT revisions). If we wait to see if the child will have trouble transitioning to solids, we have allowed time to pass when the child may have experienced and associate discomfort with mealtime. They may have developed oral patterns and oral sensitivities that impact the introduction and transition to solid foods. Whereas, if a feeding therapist is consulted during breast or bottle-feeding, struggles with these patterns, sensitivities, and potential issues with coordination or structure can be addressed before the transition to solids begins.

Difficulty Latching

Early feeding intervention can result in more comfortable and efficient feeding for parents, nursing moms, and baby.  Through various interventions and feeding techniques based on what is assessed at your initial visit, your feeding therapist can provide you with strategies that make mealtime less stressful for everyone. A stress-free feeding/meal results in decreased aversion and difficulties with food transitions and manipulation down the road.

What if my child is no longer breast or bottle feeding?

Transitioning to Solid Food

If your child has a difficult time transitioning to new textures, struggles with manipulation of solid food, presents with limited intake, and/or demonstrates aversion to mealtime or certain textures, yes feeding therapy is still warranted. Your therapist will be able to assess coordination, strength, and range of motion of the oral structure and determine the best strategies to help your child progress and be comfortable at mealtimes.

Some potential indicators of feeding difficulties:

·        Arching during feeding

·        Crying during and post feed

·        Refusing nipple

·        Limited intake at bottle or breast

·        Loss of milk or food from mouth

·        Fatiguing at breast or bottle

·        Gagging with presentation of food

·        Choking or coughing

·        Swallowing food whole (you will see a grimace as they swallow)

·        Tongue pushing food out of mouth.

·        Limited intake at mealtime

·        Poor weight gain

Those are just a few of the potential indicators that your child is experiencing feeding difficulties.

What is your first step?

Do a quick Google search for a feeding therapist local to you (Speech Language Pathologist or Occupational Therapist) or hop in a mom’s group and ask for recommendations. You will find that therapists will either have a clinic you will go to OR they will come to your home. Knowing which setting you prefer will help narrow down your search. Most therapists are happy to set up a quick consultation call to help you decide if you are ready to move forward.

Moms and dads, if your child is progressing on the growth chart but feedings and mealtimes remain difficult for you and your child, remember the ball is in your court.  Reach out to the specialist that can provide you with education and strategies to make feeding more comfortable, safe, and stress-free.

If you are local to Balanced Beginnings Pediatric Therapy and would like to set up a Pediatric Feeding Evaluation, click the link below to access our scheduler.

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