Pediatric Rehabilitation Services - Feeding and Swallowing Therapy

Helping your child eat and thrive

There are many reasons why children have problems with feeding. Physical challenges may make it hard to chew or swallow. Some medical problems make children more likely to inhale food or drink into their lungs (aspiration). Other children may dislike many flavors or textures or be distracted by their environment, making it difficult for them to get adequate nutrition.

Care and Services for your child
We evaluate children of all ages with feeding issues from the simple to the complex. We work with you and your child to determine the causes of feeding problems and develop a treatment plan to meet your child’s needs.

Specialty Feeding Care
If your child needs specialty care, the Feeding Clinic at the University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital offers multi-disciplinary evaluations. We have advanced testing and services to handle your child’s complex condition. We will work with your primary care provider and the University of Minnesota Physicians’ specialists to design a plan for your child that can be performed at a location that is most convenient for you.

Conditions we treat
  • Abnormalities of mouth or throat that interfere with feeding
  • Aversion to certain foods, textures and colors
  • Behavioral issues
  • Choking, gagging or coughing when eating
  • Delayed developmental feeding milestones
  • Difficulty transitioning from liquids or soft foods to textured foods
  • Failure to thrive due to motor delays
  • Feeding issues related to premature birth or developmental delays
  • Feeding issues related to reflux
  • Lack of appetite
  • Picky eating
  • Slow or inadequate weight gain
  • Sucking, chewing and swallowing difficulties
  • Tube feed transitions
What we work on
  • Evaluate the history behind the feeding difficulty
  • Identify and understand what is causing the feeding difficulty and how we can help your child.
  • Utilize family and child centered care approach to develop a home program to promote better feeding, giving suggestions and practice strategies to use at home daily
  • Utilize family and child centered care approach to develop a plan to address issues with tube feeding weans
  • Help parents recognize issues and medical conditions which may be preventing their child from progressing with feeding skills
  • Treat swallowing problems and recommend a safe and appropriate diet

Examples of Treatment
  • Child and family centered care with parent involvement
  • Play based activities with food at age appropriate level to teach new skills, increase comfort, and promote exploration without expectation to eat at session 
  • Provide skilled support and hands on techniques to guide child to learn new skills and confidence
  • Work with what motivates each child
  • Combine tasks to work on oral motor, sensory, and self-feeding skills such as:
    • Work on biting and chewing skills using particular foods such as meltable items like cheese puffs, Gerber wagon wheels, yogurt drops, Cheerios
    • Chew crunchy foods in mesh bag to prevent pieces from gagging and allow practice with hard solids
    • Practice drinking thin liquids from spoon and work up to open cup learning to take thin liquids
    • Participate in messy play with therapist without expectation of eating food to reduce anxiety with new foods.

Length of treatment is dependent on your child’s condition and progress. We will teach you strategies to help your child be successful in eating.

Our Team
Our team includes a speech-language pathologist, occupational therapist and a registered dietitian. They work together with you and your provider to assess your child’s difficulties and develop a treatment plan, whether it be a home-treatment program or therapy at a Fairview rehabilitation clinic. If needed, the team may recommend a referral to a psychologist or social worker. Multiple concerns may be addressed during the same session.

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Our Providers Make the Difference
Fairview features nearly 4,000 providers practicing at over 200 locations throughout the Minneapolis/St. Paul metro area and beyond. Fairview Clinics, University of Minnesota Physicians and our independent partner clinics provide an exceptional care experience, while lowering the overall costs of health care.
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