WHAT IS FEEDING THERAPY?
Feeding therapy is intended for children who are chronic picky eaters. These children tend to have a very limited variety of foods in their diet and might be lacking certain nutrients. They also often refuse to eat certain food groups and do not tolerate new foods when they are placed in front of them. A lot of parents are told that their child will “grow out” of their picky eating, but research shows that 20% of kids will be label as a picky eater by 7 years old, and only about HALF will outgrow their picky eating and the other half will continue to struggle with feeding difficulties.
During feeding therapy, we work on developing the appropriate skills for eating. This includes motor skills, oral skills, sensory processing skills, and the psychology or learned behaviors that are needed for eating. This is done through having positive, stress-free experiences with food by using a play-based, child-led approach to intervention. We use food during therapy as a modality to help children progress their feeding skills verses oral motor toys/equipment because it offers real-life practice with food and adds a rich sensory experience during therapy.
The therapy framework for feeding therapy with Sensory Savvy Kids uses components of the SOS Approach to Feeding, which is a natural progression through feeding skills because it was specifically designed following the normal developmental stages kids go through when learning to eat.
Key concepts to feeding therapy include:
We don’t force kids to eat or take a bite rather we meet children where their feeding skills are so activities during therapy are doable—we want them to want to eat!
Therapy progresses children based on “normal” developmental steps, stages, and skills of feeding of typical developing children
We don’t pressure kids to eat a certain food rather we work on improving how they learn about food and approach meals
We use a fun, play-based approach where food is our "toy"
We build bridges to new foods in a systematic, non-stress inducing manner
How do you prevent picky eating?
Start early! Feeding therapy can take years to meet a child's feeding goals. The first year of life the focus should be on sensory exploration or learning about the sensory aspects of foods and developing motor skills needed for feeding. This is why exposure to foods at an early age is important. We want to promote continued, repetitive practice with food exposure to learn what food feels, looks, smells, and tastes like even when a child who is still taking a bottle is getting their calories from their bottle. It also allows your child to practice and develop proper oral motor skills they will need to manipulate the foods in their mouth (even when they do not eat/swallow it) and learn the social aspects of mealtimes when it is time for them to start consuming the food for caloric intake.