Feeding therapy is an approach that uses a range of evidence-based strategies to help take the stress out of mealtimes.
Does your child have a limited food intake or swallowing difficulties?
Overcome fussy eaters and other challenges and create positive mealtime experiences.
Experience with complex needs, developmental delay or disability.
What is feeding therapy?
Feeding therapy aims to take the stress out of mealtimes, building a child’s confidence and competence around foods, to eat a wider range of nutritious foods. Feeding therapy at Growing Early minds uses components from a range of evidence-based trainings, including Responsive Feeding Therapy, Ellyn Satter’s Division of Responsibility, SOS (Sequential Oral Sensory) approach to feeding, and Neurodivergent approaches to Feeding Therapy. These styles focus on helping children with a limited diet become comfortable with exploring the properties of foods. It integrates posture, sensory systems, motor skills, behavioural skills, social/emotional development, medical concerns, and the nutritional impacts.
The APD credential is a public guarantee of nutrition and dietetic expertise. APD is the only national credential recognised by the Australian Government, Medicare, the Department of Veterans Affairs and most private health funds as the quality standard for nutrition and dietetics services in Australia.
What are the goals of feeding therapy?
- Identify oral, sensory, motor, cognitive and emotional feeding milestones.
- Develop your child’s feeding skills and behaviours around new and different foods.
- Improve your child’s nutrition intake to support their growth and development.
- Help families and children achieve their feeding goals.
Signs my child may benefit
Growing Early Minds feeding therapy may be beneficial if your child:
- Is very selective or fussy eater
- Limited or restricted intake (<15-20 foods)
- Obsessive and compulsive eating behaviour
- Has excessive or poor weight gain
- Ongoing reduced appetite/food intake
- Chewing and swallowing food difficulties
- Takes more than 30 minutes to eat meals
- Spits out food, chocks, vomits or gags when eating
- Has ongoing bloating, constipation or diarrhoea
- Has food or drink coming out of their nose when eating
- Has difficulty transitioning from purees to solids by 12 months of age
- Difficulty self-feeding (e.g. using spoon/fork) by 24 months of age
- Aversion or avoidance of specific colours, textures or food groups
- Following a special diet (e.g. thickened fluids, texture modified)
- Experiences meltdowns or cries during mealtimes
- Eating non-food items (e.g. dirt, grass, paper)
- Distressful family mealtimes
- Tube feeding
What happens during a session?
Based on your initial assessment with either one of our Paediatric Dietitians or Speech Pathologists a therapy schedule will be decided. Unlike other programs, our feeding therapy is individualised to each client’s needs rather than being offered in set out blocks. Sessions generally run between 30-60 minutes based on client needs and can be held weekly, fortnightly, or monthly. Every child’s needs and goals will differ so it is important to understand that therapy may require longer than you initially anticipate based on these needs to achieve the optimal outcomes.
Sessions are held by one of our trained Paediatric Dietitians or Speech Pathologists. They will work with families looking at your history, discussing current concerns or behaviours related to feeding and then help set some realistic goals with you and your child. For example, trying a wider range of coloured vegetables, meats or attempting varied textures. For others, it’s to tolerate having a certain type of food or touching the foods with their hands. Parents are usually involved so that the therapist is able to model and teach you the skills needed to continue practising at home.
The sessions are play-based and can sometimes get messy, as we involve all the senses – taste, sight, touch, smell, and hearing. We take small steps, allowing children to feel comfortable with each new texture and taste before moving on to the next. Depending on the underlying challenges, you may see your child participating in sensory integration activities, completing exercises to strengthen the muscles needed for eating, or using their senses to learn more about the food’s properties.
Locations – clinic, mobile and telehealth
Families have the option to visit our clinic in Blacktown (Western Sydney, NSW) or we can see children in their natural everyday environments such as at home, at their child care centre, school or playgroup. Our clinics are also designed to provide telehealth services to families that reside in remote, regional or interstate locations.
Whole school programs are also available. Speak to us to find out how we can work together.
Getting started and next steps
Making an appointment
If you feel therapy might be beneficial contact us today. You don’t need a referral from a GP or paediatrician, although this may help offset the cost of therapy. We will discuss with you the best pathway, fees and provide you with our referral form, along with any other important information we’ve discussed. Alternatively, you can download our referral form directly from our website here. After you complete and submit your referral form we will finalise a service agreement and contact you to discuss the signing and booking of your first consultation.
Fees and funding options
Costs can vary and depends on a number of factors including the time needed per session, the depth of an assessment, location and travel requirements. We’re registered NDIS and Medicare provider and some families may be eligible for financial support or funding packages to help offset the cost of therapy. Learn more about the different funding packages