Occupational Therapists get to be “food coaches” for kids and their families as they progress through the developmental process of learning to eat a variety of foods. It will look very different for each family! The ultimate goal of feeding therapy is to establish regular, healthy family meals that are joyful for the entire family (and not filled with stress and anxiety)!
1. It starts with an initial evaluation. This may include questions about the environment at home where the child eats, what the schedule is like, how much they eat and what foods they eat or avoid the most. The assessment and therapy should address the whole child.
2. Family dynamics are part of feeding therapy. Feeding your child is emotional: It’s about nurturing, bonding, love and responsibility as a parent. When feeding is challenging, it’s stressful and it impacts the entire family on a daily basis.
3. It takes time! First, eating is a developmental process. Regardless of their age, the therapist will begin to teach the step by step process wherever they are having trouble (e.g. chewing) as a means to reaching the long term goal of independent, healthy eating.
4. It takes a team. You are the most important part of the feeding team. You spend the most time with your child and you know your child and family best. Good feeding therapists understand and honor that relationship.
5. It looks different from child to child. You may observe other kids in a feeding group or meet other parents who describe different techniques and strategies that your therapist uses with their child.That’s because every child is different and cookie-cutter approaches to therapy do not work.
6. Focus on small steps. When you are immersed in trying to feed y6ur child 3 meals a day, plus snacks, it’s not always easy to see progress. Your therapist will give you individual goals to help you reinforce what is learned in therapy.