At Pediatric Therapies, we recognize that some children truly struggle with eating. It is not true that “all children are picky eaters” or that if they are, “they will outgrow it”. In fact, research shows that approximately 20% of children will struggle with a feeding difficulty between the ages of birth and 7 years old and of those, only half will completely outgrow it. If your child is one of those who doesn’t outgrow it, you understand the confusion, anxiety, frustration and concern that then becomes the focal point at almost every meal. And while not every child who demonstrates a picky tendency needs intervention, having several of the below problem symptoms indicates an evaluation may be useful:
- Fusses, cries or seems irritable at most meals
- Gags, coughs, chokes or vomits frequently during meals
- Has difficulty transitioning from breast to bottle to cup
- Has difficulty weaning from baby foods if started in infancy
- Won’t accept table foods (solids) by 12 months old
- Avoids most foods except those of a certain texture or specific food group
- Eats less than 20 foods by the age of 2 years old (Toomey, SOS Approach)
- Parents often report mealtime is problematic
- Has respiratory issues related to poor eating/breathing synchrony
- Poor weight gain or weight loss
SOS Approach to Feeding
At Pediatric Therapies, our intervention for helping children with feeding problems stems mostly from the SOS (Sequential Oral Sensory) Approach to Feeding developed by Dr. Kay Toomey. Dr. Toomey’s approach is aligned with the developmental skills common to typically developing children and is based on more than 30 years of her work and research in this area.
The approach includes exactly what its name implies – step-by-step methods focusing on the oral, motor and sensory components to feeding. Critical to the programming are also behavioral, medical and nutritional considerations. Most importantly, parent participation and education are essential to ensure competency and consistency across environments.
Parents learn that there is a difference between picky eaters and problem feeders. For example, picky eaters will often “tolerate” new foods on their plate, while problem feeders tantrum and meltdown when new foods are offered. Picky eaters will usually eat one or more foods from most food/texture groups, while problem feeders refuse entire categories of the same. Parents also learn about the hierarchy to feeding so they can guide their child through a logical and developmental step-by-step method to introducing new foods. Perhaps most helpful to parents, we bust the many myths surrounding mealtime such as “eating is easy”, or “it’s not appropriate to play with your food”, or “a child will eat if he’s hungry”, just to name a few.
Our goal is to make mealtime, food and eating enjoyable for your child and entire family! It is truly our joy to see children experiencing eating as fun, engaging and non-threatening, while also equipping parents as teachers and role models during mealtime. It can be the family time you want it to be!
Request Feeding Therapy Information
If you are interested in learning more about feeding therapy you can request information or if you would like to speak with someone we welcome your questions by phone at 615-377-1623.