Feeding Difficulties, Drinking and Eating Disorders in Children
Genevieve Tierney is our resident specialist working with infants and children who are experiencing difficulties with swallowing and feeding.
No referral is necessary, however many Maternal and Child Health Nurses and GP’s have referred or recommended our infant feeding service in addition to our help with swallowing, drinking and eating disorders in children.
What is a feeding difficulty?
A feeding difficulty is any type of problem a child has surrounding eating and drinking. Some feeding difficulties can lead to ill health (e.g. chest infections) and potential eating disorders in children and can often place stress on the child’s family.
What are the signs or symptoms of feeding difficulties?
There are many varied signs of feeding difficulties. Here are some of the most common:
- Difficulty transitioning to solids
- Difficulty chewing foods
- Frequently coughing after eating or drinking
- Chest infections
- Gagging on particular foods
- Food refusal or aversion
- Eating a restricted range of foods
- Having anxiety surrounding mealtimes
When should I get help for a potential swallowing, drinking, eating disorder?
Most children will go through a “fussy eating” phase however if you have concerns about your child’s eating or drinking and are becoming increasingly worried about the potential for it to become an eating disorder, it is advisable that you seek assistance.
How can a Speech Pathologist Help?
Did you know that the same muscles used in talking are also used for eating? Speech Pathologists have detailed knowledge about these muscles and complex processes involved in feeding, therefore are a great source of assistance.
A Speech Pathologist may:
- Provide advice about how to systematically change your child’s foods so that they accept a wider range when transitioning to solids
- Provide strategies regarding positioning of your child during mealtimes
- Provide education regarding different methods of feeding including cup drinking and spoon-feeding.
- Conduct regular therapy sessions aimed at reducing aversion to particular foods
- Recommend altering the characteristics of the foods and drinks on offer to your child.
- Recommend having an x-ray of your child to get a closer understanding of their swallowing technique – usually conducted through a hospital
- Work with other professionals where necessary such as a Dietician, Occupational Therapist, Pediatrician or GP.
Let us offer you supportive, kid-friendly help with feeding difficulties, swallowing and eating disorders. If you have any concerns about your child in relation to feeding difficulties or a possible eating disorder, please contact us for an assessment.