FROM BREAST OR BOTTLES . . .TO SOLIDS . . . TO EATING A BALANCED VARIETY OF FOODS
- Do you have questions about when and how to transition to solid foods?
- Do you have a toddler or young child that is a very picky eater?
Often all of the above are very normal. There are times though that feeding therapy may be needed. Read more and see if you think your baby or child might benefit from some help.
Learning to feed is an exciting developmental miracle that unfolds over many months and years. It goes hand in hand with overall physical and oral development. Some babies and children need a little help to master all that goes into feeding. Some parents benefit from learning about how to help their child successfully feed.
If your baby or child is struggling with feeding, it is easy for a parent to feel unsuccessful in their parenting. Please remember feeding is just another development milestone like crawling. If your baby or child needs some help with it, it’s not an indication of your parenting!
If you have questions about your baby’s feeding, call or email us.
Reasons to consider feeding therapy for infants:
- Low weight gain
- Tongue thrusting beyond 6 months of age
- Difficulty transitioning to solid foods (it is normal for a baby to take new foods and make faces when new flavors or consistencies are introduced)
Reasons to consider feeding therapy for toddlers and children:
- Lack of variety of food choices, flavors, temperatures, or consistencies. Some degree of “picky” eating is very normal for toddlers and young children. If you need help determining if your child is within the typical range or may need some help, call us.
- Any of the above combined with: Not liking loud noises or messy play.
- Feeling discomfort with tags in clothing rubbing on skin.
- Dislike of haircuts.
- Very high energy or very low energy.
- Very rough or very hesistant when playing.
*Qualifications for feeding therapists:
Feeding therapists at Carolina Kinder Development are either occupational or speech therapists who have received additional education and mentoring. Occupational therapists tend to focus more on the underlying sensory or motor issues which may be influencing feeding. Speech therapists tend to focus more on oral function and structure. Things like sucking and biting and chewing and moving food around in the mouth. Both types of therapists focus on what to do at home to create a successful environment for feeding – routines; typical developmental phases; shared mealtimes; aromatic smells that pique interest in the meal; and more. Our therapists will determine which type of therapist or combination will be most effective for your baby or child.
Click here for bios on our feeding therapists:
COLLEEN NOLAN, M.S CCC-SLP
MARIA STEPHENS, OTR/L,
MICHELLE YODER, OTR/L
Below are touchpoints that we hope are helpful. If you have concerns or think your baby or child may need feeding therapy, please CONTACT US
At this stage all nutrition comes from breast or bottles. Lactation consultants can be invaluable during those early weeks and months of breast-feeding. If the lactation consultant is not able to fully help, an evaluation by our feeding therapist may be helpful. Tethered tissue (tongue-tie) and the laser surgery to correct it has become a large issue during the last 5 years. We can help determine if the laser surgery is advisable or if helping the baby learn to suck more successfully is sufficient. If laser surgery is planned, pre and post education by a feeding therapist highly trained in tongue tie protocols is strongly recommended. Parents will be taught how to gently maneuver the tissue inside the infant’s mouth several times a day in a way that supports happy feeding.
- If you are in need of a lactation consultant, we are happy to tell you about several we recommend.
- If you would like to understand more about feeding therapy, please CONTACT US
Once your baby is strong enough to begin supported sitting, they are generally ready to begin the exciting journey of beginning solid food trials. Of course, always speak with your pediatrician to determine the best time to begin food trials with your baby. Infant feeding is not only about eating, it’s about exploration and learning new textures, flavors and experiences. As your baby develops, they gain new oral motor skills and abilities to move food around in their mouth. Generally, babies lose their tongue trusting behaviors around 4 months. Most 4-6 month olds begin accepting smooth purees and are beginning to learn to transfer them back and swallow. This can be a fun time for exploration, allowing baby to explore these new tastes and textures. Babies love to explore with their hands and mouth. It’s a great time to allow them to reach for and feel the food with their hands and attempt to bring purees to their mouth on their own hands. This time period is really all about exploration and learning and not about how much food your baby eats. It’s going to be messy but fun!
If you would like to understand more about feeding therapy, please CONTACT US
Around 6-8 months babies gain increased head, neck, trunk and jaw support and strength. This not only allows them to reach physical milestones like sitting, it provides oral motor strength to support munching and mashing foods. This is a great time to introduce small pieces of solids that are easy for babies to mash and explore. I love introducing very small, soft pieces of mash-able fruits and vegetables during this time. Some great ideas are very small diced pieces of banana, avocado, cooked sweet potatoes and carrots. You can also increase pureed textures by adding oatmeal to purees your baby already takes successfully. Allowing your baby to touch and explore these foods, and maybe even bring to their own mouth, is an important developmental milestone at this stage.
At 11-12 months and beyond
At 11-12 months and beyond, babies should be comfortable with many new tastes and textures. They should be exploring with food and are beginning to self -feed. Fine motor skills are advancing, and many babies love to hold their own utensils and attempt to feed themselves. Babies will be able to move their tongue and food from side to side and begin to develop a “real” rotary chew that will gradually allow them to successfully chew many new solid textures.
Infant feeding development involves growth in oral motor skills and sensory exploration. It should be a fun stage of guided self -exploration. Never feel the need to push your baby to try new textures or tastes. Remember that repeated introduction of a wide range of tastes and textures, presented in a fun learning environment, is the best path to healthy and successful eating. If you would like to understand more about feeding therapy, please CONTACT US
Devoted to infant development and prevention and treatment of torticollis, plagiocephaly and brachycephaly.
WAXHAW – limited appointments available
101 WAXHAW PROFESSIONAL PARK DRIVE
WAXHAW, NC 28173
(within Waxhaw Health and Wellness)