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Pediatric Feeding Therapy

General signs that can indicate feeding disorder:

  • Likes less than 20 food items
  • Difficulties eating certain food textures
  • Choking on foods or drinks during mealtime
  • Sensitive to how food looks, smells, or feels
  • Prefers certain brands or shapes of food
  • Prefers certain food consistencies
  • Appear uninterested or distressed around food
  • Stops eating favorite foods
  • Lack of adequate weight gain

Oral Motor Skills for Feeding

Feeding TherapyOral motor skills are skills that include the awareness, movement and coordination of the lips, tongue, jaw, teeth, hard and soft palate needed for safe swallowing and the ability to consume a variety of food consistencies.

Difficulties in oral motor skills can include:

  • Difficulties transitioning between different textures of foods
  • Weaknesses sucking, chewing, and swallowing skills
  • Lack of chewing with rotary jaw movements
  • Frequent coughing and/or gagging when eating
  • Vomiting during or after meals
  • Loss of food or liquids when eating
  • Pocketing of food in cheeks, or residue observed after swallow
  • Excessive drooling and lack of saliva management
  • Refusal to eat certain textures of foods
  • Excessive weight gain or loss

Sensory Processing Skills for Feeding

Sensory processing allows children to be able to adapt and process information from the senses including sight, hearing, taste, smell, and touch while eating. Children may display sensory differences in which they over or under respond to sensory information. For the picky eater, they tend to over respond to the senses based on current sensory information or past bad feeding experiences causing an uncomfortable feeding experience. The feeding therapists at Mary Washington Pediatric Therapy help children to improve their own ability to tolerate a variety of food items within a calm, safe, non-forced environment. This enhances their confidence and independence around food.

Difficulties in sensory skills can include:

  • Lack of oral-exploration with non-food items as an infant
  • Appear uninterested or distressed around food
  • Refusal to eat certain textures of foods
  • Rigidity with diet
  • Avoidance of touch on face and around mouth
  • Sensitive to how food looks, smells, or feels
  • Prefers certain brands or shapes of food
  • Grimacing/odd facial expressions when eating
  • Consistent wiping of hands and face during meals
  • Irritability and anxiety during mealtime
  • Obvious preference for certain textures or flavors of foods
  • Sudden refusal to eat previously tolerated foods
  • Excessive weight gain or loss

Fine Motor Skills for Feeding

Motor skills are the muscle movements and coordination skills needed for independence with feeding skills including sitting at the table, self-feeding skills
(i.e. use of spoons, cup drinking), as well as skills such as food preparatory skills (adding and stirring ingredients, putting food on plate, opening packages) at age-appropriate levels. Mary Washington Pediatric Therapy feeding therapists assist with helping children meet their feeding milestones in a fun, safe environment at a pace that is right for them.

Difficulties in motor skills can include:

  • Lack of postural control to sit in chair at table
  • Lack of eating finger foods by 8-12 months
  • Difficulties using utensils such as spoon for eating, cup for drinking
  • Difficulties opening age-appropriate packages
  • Difficulties preparing for mealtime such as washing hands, helping caregiver set the table or preparing food (i.e. stirring food or adding ingredients)


New Patient Intake

Food Inventory Form

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