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