We help reduce the stressors around mealtime for your child and your family

Creative Techniques for Improved Eating Habits

Does your child refuse different food textures? Are they experiencing difficulty chewing or swallowing food? If mealtimes are a constant struggle or your child is a picky eater, it can impact your child’s well-being and overall health. Feeding therapy can help by making the process of eating easier and more enjoyable. 

Located in Milford and Danbury, Connecticut, we help children experiencing a variety of feeding disorders. Our therapists work closely with children and their families to determine the source of difficulties and develop very specific therapies to solve the challenges that your child is facing. Depending on your child’s underlying reasons, whether they are sensory, motor, or a combination of both, our therapists will devise a sensory-motor approach to addressing the barriers to your child’s ability to eat an age-appropriate meal.

Goals for feeding therapy at KidSense are as follows:

  • Facilitating the sensory, motor, cognitive, and emotional milestones related to feeding that have not yet been met by your child. 
  • Developing your child’s feeding skills and behaviors around new and familiar foods. 
  • Assisting children and families in achieving their individual eating goals, as defined in an initial one-on-one assessment. 
  • Helping children and families enjoy mealtime as a positive social activity.
  • Maximizing hydration and nutrition intake to support growth and development at all ages
  • Comfortable food exploration of foods of various colors, textures, temperatures, sizes, and smells

What Causes Feeding Difficulties?

There are numerous reasons why children have trouble eating and swallowing:

  • Facial, oral, dental, pharyngeal structural differences resulting in choking, gagging, or coughing 
  • Reduced coordination of motor movements making chewing and swallowing difficult as a result of neurological disorders 
  • Medical complications, prematurity, cardiac conditions, traumatic injury 

  • Dependence on alternative/enteral nutrition
  • Growth and weight problems, malnutrition 
  • Chronic respiratory issues, reflux, vomiting, constipation, diarrhea 
  • Metabolic disturbances, food allergies 
  • Sensory integration disorders 

  • Extreme selectivity and food refusal 
  • Under-eating or over-eating 
  • Food anxieties or aversions 
  • Rigidity with eating routines and food preferences

Signs Your Child Needs Feeding Therapy

Does your child display any of the following?

Your Child is Upset at the Mealtimes

If mealtimes result in tears or meltdowns, this can be an indicator your child’s feeding experience is not a pleasant one. Your child may be showing signs of feeding difficulties if your child is frequently upset when presented with new food, throws utensils, or shows signs of discomfort or pain while eating. Another sign may be if your child struggles to stay seated or attempts to eat at a meal for an excessively long period of time.

Poor or Excessive Weight Gain

Despite your best efforts to get your child to eat a healthy meal, if they are showing abnormal growth and or weight-gain patterns, feeding therapy is recommended. Such children might also have obsessive or compulsive feeding disorders which can negatively impact their development.

Limited or Restricted Intake

If your child refuses to eat anything but a few favorite  foods or has an aversion to certain colors, textures, or food categories, it might indicate a feeding disorder. Such children typically limit the food they eat to specific methods of preparation, brands, temperatures, or flavors. Additionally, if your child eats less than 20% of foods offered at mealtimes this can be an indicator of feeding difficulties.

Trouble Eating Solid Food

If your child consumes mostly liquids or semi-solids, frequently vomits, or has trouble shifting from purees to solids by the age of 12 months, it may indicate a pediatric feeding disorder or a digestive disorder. Such children might also experience continued bloating, constipation, or diarrhea or could digest only modified diets. They might also experience  difficulty self-feeding (e.g., using a spoon/fork) after 24 months of age or prefer to consume non-food items e.g. dirt, grass, or paper.

Difficulties in Swallowing

Some children have difficulties in manipulating or swallowing food or liquids from their mouth into their throat and to their stomach. Such children might experience the following while eating: 

  • Watery eyes or runny nose 
  • Food spills out of their mouth 
  • Cannot drink from an open cup or straw without spillage 
  • Take more than 30 minutes to eat meals 
  • Excessive throat clearing, coughing, "wet" sounding voice after eating
  • Throwing their head back or using a really forceful swallow to get food down

Why Choose KidSense (Milford and Danbury, CT) for Feeding Therapy

When your child isn’t eating well, we can help

  • Creative Approach - Our feeding therapists use creative ways to make eating fun for your child. We recognize eating can be a stressful task for our clients and therefore we look to incorporate strategies and techniques that will positively support your child’s food journey.
  • Customized Treatment PlanOur therapists take into account nutritional guidelines, family values, and most importantly current status to deliver interventions that meet them where they are and lead them to their goals. 

  • Transdisciplinary Team - Your child’s feeding problem could originate from a variety of underlying issues. Our transdisciplinary team of Occupational therapists, Speech-Language pathologists, and Mental Health Clinicians collaborate together to help improve your child’s feeding difficulties. 
  • Well-trained Staff - Our staff has a variety of training backgrounds including the SOS Approach, and training from Melanie Potuck (mymunchbug.com). Our therapists utilize  sensory/play-based approach to food exploration, oro-myofunctional approaches to addressing oral motor concerns, and individualized treatment for each child.

  • Specialized Care - We provide specialized intervention for children with all types of feeding concerns including popular mealtime management methods such as the SOS Approach and Food Chaining. These methods allow the therapists to address the feeding difficulties using a playful and interactive approach.

What is Involved in a Feeding Evaluation?

A High-Quality Assessment for Valid and Reliable Results

The therapist will gather information regarding your child's medical history, developmental milestones, current diet, and current concerns during a feeding evaluation. Depending on their age and feeding abilities, we ask that families bring a sampling of food items, typically including prefered and non preferred foods for the evaluation. The therapist may also evaluate the following:  

  • Oral motor skills (e.g. chewing patterns, tongue/lip function, etc) 
  • Consumption of thin liquids (e.g., bottle, breastfeeding, cup drinking, straw drinking) 
  • Response and consumption of preferred and non-preferred solid foods 
  • Child’s self-awareness of feeding skills through ratings of foods consumed
  • Play with a variety of tactile experiences (e.g., playing in shaving cream, sand, rice, water) 
  • Analysis of symptoms and problematic feeding through norm-referenced tools such as the Pediatric Eating Assessment Tool (PediEat)

Feeding Therapy Treatment

We help your child to eat a balanced variety of foods

Our feeding therapy includes but is not limited to the following: 

  • Strategies to improve breastfeeding and or bottle-feeding abilities 
  • Increasing tolerance for messy play with food and non-food items 
  • Development of self-feeding skills, through the use of suitable utensils 
  • Improvement of oral motor skills (ex. chewing, biting, tongue movement) 
  • Introduction new foods into your child's diet and improving oral intake 
  • Eating meals with more/mixed texture (for example, mac-and-cheese, yogurt with fruit bits) or less texture (ex. smooth yogurt, pudding) 
  • Increasing feeding strength, endurance, and attention during mealtimes 
  • Optimizing positioning & seating for mealtimes (e.g. highchair, seated at the table). 
  • Food exploration through all the senses. 
  • Use  play based activities to make feeding treatment as pleasant and pleasurable for your child as possible. 
  • Pacing strategies to minimize overstuffing/food pocketing

External Feeding Therapy Resources for Families, Parents and Caregivers

Resources do not supplement an evaluation and treatment plan created by a licensed therapist and should be used for informational purposes only.

Frequently Asked Questions

KidSense Locations

KidSense Therapy Group has two Convenient locations in Milford and Danbury CT which serve our greater New Haven County area as well as the greater Fairfield County area. Both locations are fully staffed with both therapists as well as administrative professionals.

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