Do you think your child may need feeding therapy? For families in Plano feeding therapy is available at the East Plano location of Speech & Occupational Therapy of North Texas. Following are some great tips to improve the success of feeding therapy or for helping with a positive experience related to mealtime.
5 Tips for Parents with a Child in a Feeding Therapy Program
1. Understand That Feeding Is Complex
Typically children express hunger and look forward to snack times and mealtimes, and adults frequently plan their meals out each day. Eating is a social experience for children and adults alike, as we gather to eat meals with our families and friends. For those of us who have never experienced any feeding problems and the only food we are aversive to is grandma’s fruitcake (which everyone is), it can be difficult to imagine why a child would not enjoy eating. Regardless of age, feeding involves several different skill sets and systems working together to accept, process, manipulate and safely swallow a variety of foods. Medical factors, oral motor skills, and sensory processing skills are just some components that contribute to a child’s ability to enjoy mealtime.
2. Patience, Patience, Patience.
Forcing food on a child can be detrimental to progress and a child’s attitude towards food. Just like walking and talking, feeding is a developmental process. If a child is not eating certain types or textures of food, there is a reason. The therapist will help determine where the breakdown is in the feeding hierarchy and address that need. Sometimes simple modifications to mealtime routines can yield big results, although other times progress is slower.
3. Focus on the Positives
Focus on all the things your child can do, and on all progress made towards feeding goals. Progress is progress, regardless of how small it may seem. All progress is working towards a goal and is significant to the child meeting that goal.
4. Carryover is Key
Parental involvement is a huge contributing factor to success in feeding therapy. A child may see his or her therapist multiple times a week for feeding therapy. However, there are 21+ meals a week (not including snacks). Parents should be setting their child up to be successful each opportunity outside of the therapy room. It is also important to share goals and strategies with other caregivers and family members in order to keep mealtime routines consistent for the child.
5. Mealtimes and Food-Related Experiences Should Be Positive.
Make foods and mealtimes fun. Take advantage of daily routines outside of mealtimes to create positive experiences. Introduce your child to a variety of foods in the produce aisle, allow them to help you prepare a meal, and encourage pretend to play such as feeding a doll or stuffed animal. These are all things that can help decrease anxieties and fears related to food and mealtimes, as well as build positive associations. When a child has feeding difficulties, mealtimes can be a stressful time for the entire family. Do your best to keep your stresses and frustrations away from the table, as children will sense those negative feelings around them and this will affect their attitudes and perceptions of mealtime.
Feeding therapy is provided by speech-language pathologists who have pursued specialized training. For families in Plano, speech therapy is available at our East Plano location.
For more information regarding feeding therapy, visit – https://www.speechandot.com/category/plano-feeding-and-swallowing/