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  • Writer's pictureMaura Ambrose

PREPARING FOR A FEEDING EVALUATION

Is your child struggling with food, and you are not sure why? Ask your pediatrician for a referral for a Feeding Evaluation with a Speech-Language Pathologist.


I am a Speech-Language Pathologist skilled in the evaluation and treatment of pediatric feeding disorders, and I can help you and your child!


You may be surprised to learn that at least 1 in 37 children under the age of 5 are diagnosed with a pediatric feeding disorder in the United States alone (Kovacic et al., 2020). Eating probably seems so easy and intuitive for those who have never suffered from any feeding difficulties.


However, eating is actually quite complex!


Did you know that when you swallow a single sip of coffee (or any other liquid or food) you are using over 20 muscles to safely and successfully swallow (Bass, N.H. & Morrell, R.M., 1992)? It is no wonder young children may struggle with eating!


So much development happens in the early years, and sometimes feeding skills get the short end of the stick.


Parents, I know it may seem as though you have tried everything at this point - all the diet changes, all the formula changes, bottles, cups, spoons, hot food, cold food, etc. and nothing is working.


I see you parents, and I believe you.


Feeding your child is supposed to be this beautiful, happy bonding experience - right?


What about when it isn’t? When a child suffers from feeding-related issues, the whole family suffers.


The good news is that there is no better parent for your child than you, and I am here to empower you with knowledge and strategies so that you and your child can have those beautiful feeding experiences together.


A feeding evaluation is not meant to be a judgment of whether you breast or bottle feed your child. If you make your own baby food - great! If you buy it in a store- also great! Our goal is to help your child eat safely and independently, however that looks for your family.

A FEEDING EVALUATION IS AN EVALUATION OF YOUR CHILD’S:

  • Oral motor skills (tongue, lip, cheek & jaw movements) with & without food.

  • Response to food (level of comfort vs. stress).

  • Food inventory (types, textures, volume of food they eat).

  • Utensil use (bottle, cup, spoon, fork, etc.).

  • Positioning (in your lap, in a high chair or booster, etc.).

THE EVALUATION WILL ALSO INCLUDE:

  • Discussion about feeding concerns.

  • Medical & developmental history questions.

  • Feeding schedule and history questions.

  • Observation of your child eating a meal or snack.

  • Trial of new feeding strategies and/or adjustments, as needed.

The Feeding Evaluation is just the start of your child’s journey toward safe, independent eating. The evaluation will provide a lot of useful diagnostic information, but your SLP probably won't know everything about your child’s eating from just one session together- that is why the SLP may recommend feeding therapy for your child.

HERE SOME WAYS YOU CAN PREPARE FOR THE EVALUATION:

  1. Schedule the evaluation at a time when your child would typically have a meal/snack (or right before). This ensures they are hungry and more likely to eat during the evaluation.

  2. If able, gather pediatrician visit notes, medical specialist notes (e.g. ENT, allergy, GI), and any other documentation that may be relevant to your child’s feeding.

  3. Prepare/gather food for the meal/snack as you typically would, including drinks and all supplies (bottle, cup, bowl, spoon, fork, teethers, pacifier, swaddle blanket, etc.).

  4. Set aside 1-3 food items that your child struggles eating or refuses to eat. We may explore these as part of the evaluation to identify why they are refusing them.

  5. Set up your typical feeding area, so that everything is ready (milk, chair, utensils, food, etc.) and we can maximize our time together.


48 HOURS AFTER THE EVALUATION, YOU WILL RECEIVE A REPORT WITH THE FOLLOWING:

  • Summary of your child’s medical, developmental and feeding history.

  • Clinical impressions based on areas assessed (see above).

  • Recommendations for continued or improved feeding.

  • Referrals to medical providers, if indicated.

  • Proposed feeding treatment plan, created specifically for your child.

If you have additional questions, you can contact IGNITE for a free phone consultation prior to the evaluation.








Kovacic K, Rein L, Kommareddy S, Szabo A Bhagavatula P, Goday PS. Pediatric feeding disorders: A nationwide prevalence study. J Peds. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jpeds.2020.07.047





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