What is feeding therapy?
The feeding therapy program offered by Growing Early Minds follows the SOS (Sequential Oral Sensory) approach to feeding. This evidence-based program focuses on helping children with a limited diet become comfortable trying new and different foods as well as how to eat if they don’t know how to chew or manage food in their mouth. The program integrates posture, sensory systems, motor skills, behavioural skills, social/emotional development, medical concerns and nutritional impacts. The SOS approach is a fun, family-centred program that involves exploration and creative play.
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.
Would my child benefit from attending feeding therapy?
Growing Early Minds feeding therapy may be beneficial if your child:
- Is a very fussy or selective 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 feeding therapy?
Sessions will be held by one of our trained Paediatric Dietitians or Speech-Language 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 onto the next. Depending on the underlying challenges, you may see your child participating in sensory integration activities or completing exercises to strengthen the muscles needed for eating or using their senses to learn more about the food’s properties.
How long is the program?
The program is typically offered in blocks of 12 treatment sessions, and run for 45-60 minutes and held weekly or fortnightly. In some cases, the program may be shortened to suit the goals or circumstances of the family. We’ll discuss this with you at your initial consultation. It’s important that you are able to commit to the agreed period to achieve the optimal outcome.
What are the next steps?
- Contact us to chat about your concerns. No referral from a GP or paediatrician is necessary. We’ll 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 here.
- Our referral form must be completed and emailed back before you can be placed on our waitlist. We’ll complete a service agreement and contact you to discuss the signing and booking of your first consultation.
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.