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Melanie Potock
BY Melanie Potock

5 Signs that Your Infant May Benefit from Feeding Therapy

As a speech language pathologist who specializes in feeding, I am grateful when a parent brings a baby to see me as soon as possible.  Feeding therapists like to assess children the moment parents detect that their little one is having trouble in order prevent future problems from arising.

Just as important to me is ensuring that feeding your baby is a wonderful experience – it’s about nurturing, love and bonding as you help him/her grow. It’s not always obvious when babes under the age of one aren’t eating well, especially if it is the parent’s first baby.  Here are 5 signs that your infant may benefit from feeding therapy:

1. Feeding your baby is not an enjoyable experience

It’s difficult and stressful. A feeding therapist is a feeding detective and can help you figure out why.

2. Baby is not gaining weight

A feeding therapist will collaborate with your pediatrician and other professionals, such as a gastroenterologist, to examine all the possible factors.  Sometimes,  when a baby is not consuming enough calories, it is due to oral motor or sensory issues that prevent baby from having an effective suck on the breast or bottle.  The feeding therapist may also collaborate with a certified lactation consultant or have those credentials too.

3. Baby is having trouble transitioning to purees or solid foods

Learning to suck purees off a spoon or fingers is part of the developmental learning process that eventually leads to more advanced skills, like chewing.  There are a multitude of reasons that babies stall here and catching it early is essential.  If your baby is not adjusting to age appropriate solid foods by 8 months of age, please consider feeding therapy.

4. Baby gags and/or vomits on a daily basis

The occasional gag is nature’s way of protecting baby’s airway until he/she can control the pieces of food in the mouth.  However, daily gags can lead to daily vomiting and discomfort, which leads to baby learning that eating is not fun. A feeding therapist can determine why your baby is having trouble and offer strategies to help overcome a sensitive gag reflex.

5. Baby has not begun to drink from an open cup and straw cup by 1 year

By this age, babies should be developing a mature swallow pattern.  Babies drink (and swallow) from the breast or bottle differently than the way older children drink from a cup.  Read more about the process here, in an article about sippy cups. I suggest using sippy cups for only a short time (or not at all) as one step to helping baby progress to the next stage in feeding.

You may also be interested in: 10 Things You Should Know about Feeding Therapy

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Melanie Potock

Written on February 3, 2014 by:

Feeding specialist Melanie Potock, MA, CCC-SLP and pediatrician Dr. Nimali Fernando are the co-authors of the award-winning book, Raising a Healthy Happy Eater: A Stage-by-Stage Guide to Setting Your Child on the Path to Adventurous Eating. Melanie in an international speaker, training OTs, RDs and SLPs in feeding therapy and offering parent presentations to the special needs community. Dr. Fernando (Dr. Yum) and Melanie (Coach Mel) joined forces to create the Doctor Yum Preschool Food Adventure as part of The Doctor Yum Project, a non-profit focused on helping families create a culture of wellness in their communities. Dr. Yum gives our more recipes than prescriptions - she's your pediatrician in the kitchen! Together, they created the website, the new go-to resource for parents who want to learn how to raise adventurous eaters, even if they have a child who is hesitant to try new foods. Their 5 hour video course, The Picky Eater Course, is specifically designed for both parents and professionals who want to truly understand how children become courageous, joyful eaters and learn to love healthy foods!

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