A feeding disorder is any difficulty with eating or drinking that results in concerns for a child's safety or growth. There is a wide range of feeding difficulties that can include:
- Coughing, choking or gagging with swallowing
- Difficulty chewing
- Refusing different food textures
- Picky eating
- Difficulty transitioning from g-tube to oral feeding
- Difficulty with breast or bottle feeding
- Feeding complications due to reflux
Choosing our feeding team
Being able to eat and drink are a necessary part of your child's life as they impact a child's growth and development...and don't forget how many events revolve around food! If your child has a feeding disorder, this can make eating and drinking difficult. The speech language pathologists and occupational therapists at Cook Children's are here to help. Our feeding team has experience working with a wide variety of feeding disorders to help your child become more successful at mealtimes.
What makes Cook Children's Feeding Team unique?
- Pediatric focused: Our highly skilled speech language pathologists and occupational therapists specialize in treating children – from newborns into young adulthood.
- Evidence based: When you bring your child to Cook Children's for feeding therapy, you're choosing a team that uses the most up-to-date, evidence-based diagnostics and treatments for feeding disorders.
- Family centered care: Our feeding team will work individually with you and your child to develop a family centered treatment plan, making sure we work towards your goals for your child. We include family members in every phase of feeding therapy – from evaluation to discharge.
- Coordinated care: We work with your child's medical team and other therapists to make sure we are providing the most comprehensive care possible.
- Episodic care: We know therapy is a big commitment, so we want to get your child back to their school, community, and everyday life as quickly as possible. Our clinicians will adjust your child's treatment plan as they get better. We can also help you to find resources and community activities to support your child's needs as they finish therapy.
Physicians, make a referral or schedule consultation
Schedule an appointment
If your child is scheduled for a feeding evaluation, it's important that your child comes to the appointment ready to eat. We recommend holding off any food, snacks or drinks for 2-3 hours before their appointment time so they are hungry. We want to see your child's mealtime routine, so please bring at least one food item they do well with and one food item that is a challenge. If they have specific cups or utensils they use at home, please bring those as well.
What to expect at your evaluation
Our speech and occupational therapists evaluate each child's individual needs related to feeding and develop a plan with the goal of providing a safe, pleasurable feeding experience that promotes the opportunity to meet the child's nutritional needs. This evaluation includes an assessment of oral-motor skills, swallowing function and safety, as well as sensorimotor and sensory processing skills. If the therapist has concerns regarding swallowing safety, there may be further testing, such as a swallow study or FEES, to provide further insight to your child's swallowing abilities.
Q: What if my child only eats by breast and/or bottle?
A: Please come prepared to feed by breast or bring your child's current bottle system and any nipples used.
Q: What if my child only gets fed by a feeding tube?
A: Please try to hold off tube feedings for 2-3 hours prior to evaluation. You may reach out to your child's physician to verify if pausing tube feedings is appropriate for your child.
Q: What if I'm not sure what to bring?
A: Please reach out to our scheduling team at 682-885-4063 with any specific questions. They can direct you to the appropriate clinic.
Our speech language pathologists are trained in techniques to improve strength and movements in the mouth needed for safe, effective drinking and chewing.
NMES (neuromuscular electrical stimulation)
We have speech language pathologists at each of our clinics certified in using NMES for swallowing dysfunction. Our clinicians will evaluate your child and determine if they are appropriate for use of this therapy strategy.
When babies have a difficult time breast feeding or bottle feeding, they may need specialized help becoming safe and efficient at feeding. We have clinicians that have expertise in infant feeding needs.
Sometimes children have difficulty with foods based on how things look, feel, smell or taste. We offer sensory based feeding therapy to help children learn to eat a larger variety of foods.
If your doctor or feeding clinician has concerns about your child's ability to swallow safely, we may recommend a video fluoroscopic swallow function study or "swallow study." This is a specialized evaluation that allows us to see exactly what is happening internally when a child swallows.
Fiberoptic endoscopic evaluation of swallowing (FEES)
Another evaluation for swallowing offered at Cook Children's is FEES. This test is done with an ear nose and throat doctor. It's a procedure where a small flexible telescope is used to watch the child swallow.
We're here to help.
If your child has been recommended to us, you probably have lots of questions. We can help. If you would like to schedule an appointment, refer a patient or speak to our staff, please call our offices at 682-885-4063.