However, if your child develops extreme picky eating habits or has difficulty with eating, then it is time to consider feeding therapy. Feeding therapy can be done by a speech therapist or an occupational therapist depending on what your child’s individual needs are. To find a feeding therapist near you, visit a database like Feeding Matters.
Wondering if your child’s behavior towards food is enough to seek professional therapy? Here are the main reasons why parents consult a feeding therapist for their kids’ eating difficulties.
1. Selective Eating: Does your child only eat foods of certain texture, taste, type, color, or shape? This is a sign that your child might be able to benefit from feeding therapy.
2. Difficulty Eating: Your child also might display signs of difficulty chewing, swallowing, or otherwise consuming food. They might cough after eating or in the case of an infant, maybe they are struggling to move from pureed food to solids. All of these would indicate that you should seek an evaluation for feeding therapy.
3. Extreme Pickiness: While picky eating alone is generally not enough to seek feeding therapy, if your child displays pickiness at every meal, then professional treatment is the best course of action to help them.
Main Approaches to Feeding Therapy
Every child’s plan will be different when it comes to helping them overcome their difficulties with food. However, the two primary methods of feeding therapy are fairly straightforward. With behavioral therapy, your child will be given incentives to try new foods, and they will be rewarded when they successfully eat something new. This is generally something like a small toy or sticker that will motivate them to branch outside their food comfort zone. The other approach is child-directed, where the therapist works alongside the parents to identify the origins of the issue and solve the root problem.
There’s no right answer to this; a child can get feeding therapy at any age, from infancy to an older toddler on up. If you are a concerned parent, it’s best to give a therapist a call and discuss what the options are. Your child may not be ready for therapy, and you might be given some ideas to try at home to see if they work before coming in for therapy. Or, you might be able to get your child the professional help they require right away to overcome their issues with eating once and for all.
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