There are several feeding problems that may be experienced by a child or an infant that may make it necessary to look into feeding therapy. They include:
- Reduced food intake or not eating at all.
- Refusing some types of food.
- Experiencing difficulty or fear of swallowing.
- Oral motor problems.
- Throwing tantrums during mealtimes
Feeding therapy helps in handling problems that may arise in the long run as a result of the feeding problems. There is a wide range of professionals involved in these processes. The types of therapy will depend on the specific problem the infant is experiencing. For a start, there is a need to have a proper medical history of the child, the effect of the feeding problem has on the child and the effects of making adjustments to the feeding behavior. All this is in a bid to find the most practical solution.
Assessment of the Feeding Habits and Skills
The way the child swallows food is assessed to find out if the child has a physical problem or does not have the motor skills required to take a proper diet. GERD is known to prevent children from feeding on some foods because of the pain experienced. Eventually, the child may not gain the motor skills required for these foods. The child may also end up eating very fast and not get the physical skills they need to take these foods. Tube feeding, as a result of GERD, may also prevent some children from gaining these important feeding skills.
To get adequate information about the child’s feeding skills, observation may not be enough. There is a need for a swallow study.
This process is also shortened as MBS or VFSS. A video of the process is captured and is thoroughly assessed at a later stage by a radiologist. Food and drinks containing a mixture of barium are given to the child. The evaluator then observes how the child is swallowing different textures of food as well as liquids of varying levels of thickness. Because there is a need to create the typical feeding situation that the child is used to, you might be asked to bring the food the child eats as well as the utensils the child uses. However, the child is placed in a radiology suit in a position where the evaluator can have a good view of the feeding process.
How the child prepares the food or drink for swallowing is assessed. The pharyngeal movement during the swallowing process is also observed. They look at the strength of the swallow and its ability to enable food to go down the esophagus. They see if food accumulates in any of the cavities along the esophagus and mechanisms to remove such particles. Some studies may observe the food until it reaches the stomach. Any changes in swallowing behavior are also noted. Sensory issues that affect the feeding behavior are also analyzed. For instance, GERD is known to make children hypersensitive which can result in their refusal to eat some types of food.
There is a thorough evaluation of the surroundings in which the child eats. This assessment looks at who feeds the child and how the child is fed, the utensils used in the feeding process, the place where the child eats and if the location may be distracting the child as well as an analysis of the child’s feeding schedule. The type of food given and the ones refused are also analyzed.
Assessment of Mealtime Habits
The evaluator looks at the communication between the feeder and the child to see if there is any habit during meal time that prevents the child from taking in enough food. Aspects such as not observing the child communicating that they have had enough food, allowing the child to choose the food to eat or not allowing the children to feed on their own may be preventing them from obtaining the right skills. When evaluating whether Feeding Therapy is necessary or not, reviews and testimonials from experienced parents can help tremendously. Speak Live Play provides plenty.
The Relationship Between Reflux and Unusual Feeding Patterns
Reflux pains that result from GERD make most infants and children develop feeding problems. When ignored or not properly managed, the child may end up developing other problems such as refusing food. This may hamper their ability to develop the right feeding skills. The child may find it difficult to advance from one feeding level or from one texture of food to the next.
Even after the GERD subsides, the child may still not feel comfortable eating. Proper management of reflux is needed for the feeding therapy to be effective. Melissa at Speak Live Play has made it her personal duty to help children in need. Good luck!