Please call (314) 286-1669 Opt. #1 or email OTClinical@wustl.edu to schedule an appointment.
Feeding is a daily activity of childhood that allows children to grow, develop, play, and learn. Children take part in meals and snacks multiple times a day and in a variety of settings like home, daycare, and school. Feeding goes beyond eating and swallowing. It also includes the process of participating in meal times and getting food and drink to the mouth. Our services recognize that feeding can be stressful and difficult for some children and families. We offer support for infants and children with a variety of presentations, ranging from limited diet variety to sensory difficulties to the use of supplemental and/or alternative means of nutrition. Our goal is to teach and empower children to be more confident and comfortable with feeding, as well as to support families in creating positive mealtime experiences.
Within occupational therapy, we are able to help teach families and children strategies to improve feeding and promote meal time participation. Below are some of the skills and strategies occupational therapy focuses on to support infant and child feeding:
- Diet progression, or the transition from breast/bottle to solid food consistencies, for infants and young toddlers
- Self-feeding skills, including using hands and utensils to bring food and drink to the mouth in a coordinated and efficient manner
- Sensory processing strategies to promote comfort and confidence with exploring and accepting a variety of food textures, tastes, smells, and appearances
- Positioning strategies to ensure safety and to support attention while the infant or child is eating and drinking
- Family-centered mealtime routines that encourage positive social interaction and decrease overall stress during feeding
Feeding Evaluation Overview
Our specially-trained occupational therapist will meet with you and your child in the clinic to evaluate how your child feeds themselves, eats and drinks, and/or accepts different types or consistencies of foods. The evaluation process can take one to two hours, during which our therapist will also look at your child’s overall strength, coordination, sensory, social, and behavioral skills as these all affect feeding. Together, you and the therapist will work together to decide on goals and skills to address, as well as a follow-up plan to help your infant or child improve their feeding participation. Our therapist will also develop a specific home program for you and your child to address feeding and meal time skills beyond the clinic and to foster continued healthy growth and development.