Feeding therapy is a natural alternative for infants. It is designed to stimulate the digestive system to promote better digestion and help the baby to break down food easier. Feeding therapy for babies is typically recommended from birth through approximately three months of age. At that time the baby should be able to feed on an empty stomach. Once past three months of age, solid foods can be added to the diet.
Feeding therapy helps to develop the skills of the entire family. Parents are able to see their child growing and developing and are taught how to recognize food allergies, pain, irritability, and other warning signs. Parents also get a better understanding of how to handle situations that may arise and how to communicate with their child to get through those times. It is also used to help children and infants who have problems sleeping, drooling, have trouble learning and are picky eater.
When babies are under this type of therapy, they are fed by a professional in an effort to develop an appropriate feeding technique for them. Parents often report that this therapy has an immediate impact on the way their child eats, but is not necessarily the only factor. In fact, babies who are under feeding receive care, love, and confidence from the entire family. If your baby has been under this type of therapy for more than three months, he or she is probably receiving a high level of sensory stimulation and appropriate nutrition.
The benefits of early intervention also extend to the families. Many parents find that children who are properly fed have higher self-esteem and tend to do better at school. The reason for this is that when parents start providing specific needs and encouragement early in life, they become connected to the child’s thoughts, feelings, and physical development. The feeding techniques that are used in therapy are based on several years’ worth of research by sensory integration specialists. These specialists understand the importance of early intervention for every child. They know that it can make a huge difference in how the child learns to process sensory information.
If you or your spouse have questions about your child’s development, you should consult with a speech-language pathologist, audiologist, occupational therapist or a psychologist experienced with early childhood education. Every child will respond differently to feeding therapy. No two babies will have the same reaction to the same method of teaching, so you should ask your therapists about their experience and training in this area. Be sure to ask about the protocols for feeding evaluations that your child will be subjected to throughout his or her first year of life.
There are many different methods that are part of feeding therapy. In fact, your child may need all of the methods or none of them. You need to discuss which ones are right for your child. Your child’s specific needs and desires will dictate which techniques are applied and which ones should be avoided.
It is important to note that many speech and occupational therapists do not subscribe to the theory that sensory integration is a significant contributor to problems later in life. This is especially true in the realm of speech language pathology. For these therapists, there is often a lot of trauma associated with feeding issues. Occupational therapists, on the other hand, are more likely to emphasize cognitive methods of dealing with sensory issues. Many of these methods are similar, but occupational therapists know that speech language pathology deals specifically with an individual’s communication skills.
Your child may benefit from feeding therapy if you are experiencing any of the following symptoms: difficulty starting the words for the first time, excessive burping, or spitting up during the night. Also, your child may benefit if you are experiencing any sensory issues such as abnormal head moves, arm movements, twitching, dry mouth, grinding teeth, or extreme sounds and noises. No matter what your particular feeding difficulties are, you should contact an audiologist, speech pathologist, or occupational therapist to rule out any serious underlying conditions.