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Feeding

The earliest communication between parent and infant often occurs through feeding.

Feeding difficulties require prompt assessment and follow-up because it can affect all aspects of the family's life and significantly influence the infant's health and development. Early feeding movements and patterns foster later feeding patterns and behaviours and lay the foundation for oral and speech movement Early feeding intervention is crucial in developing sucking, biting, chewing and swallowing skills at critical times of development.

Feeding difficulties may include...

BREAST FEEDING

  • attachment problems

  • long/ineffective feeds

  • sucking difficulties

  • poor weight gain

  • poor breast drainage

  • sore/cracked nipples

  • coughing/gagging during feeds

  • infant/parental distress at feed times

  • mastitis

  • the need to compliment breast feeds with bottle feeding

BOTTLE FEEDING

  • poor sucking

  • poor intake

  • dribbling during feeds

  • coughing/gagging

  • poor weight gain

  • refusal

DRINKING

  • coughing/gagging

  • liquid loss

  • difficulty with a cup or straw

  • poor liquid intake

  • refusal of cup

  • difficulty sucking from a straw

  • cannot drink independently

SOLIDS

  • refusal of solid textures

  • gagging on foods (especially mashed or lumpy solids)

  • slow tedious meals

  • poor intake of solids or particular textures

  • difficulty chewing

  • fussy eating or limited range of foods eaten

  • refuse to self feed with spoon or fingers

  • refuse to handle foods at mealtimes

ORAL/ TUBE FEEDING

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Your child is fed via a tube and you need advice with:

 

  • oral and tube feeding options (in terms of selection and provision of appropriate oral food and liquid textures and types based on your child’s feeding and swallowing skills)

  • oral feeding plans and intervention whilst a child is on tube feeding or a combination of oral and tube feeds

  • a tube weaning program in conjunction with the child’s team of professionals (dietitian, paediatrician) to determine appropriate oral stimulation, oral exercises and appropriate choice of feeding equipment and liquids and solid food textures.

  • ways to facilitate feeding skills so your child is able to transition from tube to oral feeding (eg sucking, biting, chewing, drinking)

NUTRITIONAL ISSUES

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Our speech pathologists liaise closely and often work in conjunction with the child’s paediatrician, dietitian and relevant medical team members when:​

  • There is poor oral intake or refusal of breast/formula milk or solids and the infant may not be meeting nutritional requirements.

  • The child has food intolerances/ allergies.

  • The child may have special dietary needs/issues associated with a specific medical condition or special need eg. cardiac conditions, congenital syndromes, cerebral palsy, metabolic disorders. 

  • The child requires a modified oral diet (eg thickened fluids, purees and food textures) prescribed by a speech pathologist

  • The child requires specific nutritional supplements or a specialised diet plan.

Our team includes speech pathologists who are specifically trained and experienced in assessing and managing a range of feeding problems in infants and children from birth to 18 years.

Assessment will closely look at the child’s birth, medical and developmental history, oral anatomy and movement of the lips, jaw, tongue and palate, feeding experiences and history, feeding and swallowing skills, diet and potential feeding options.

Management options will be explored with the family and the aim is to develop practical and beneficial feeding plans and techniques with the family that will foster safe, effective, skill building and independent feeding for the child and family.

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