Feeding Difficulties

Helping your child eat safely and nutritiously.

Mary Free Bed Kids evaluates and treats children who have trouble chewing, swallowing, eating or drinking because of a medical condition.

Our goal is to maximize your child’s feeding skills and improve his or her overall well-being with treatment, training and support from you. A team of experts will work with you to develop feeding techniques catered to your child’s specific needs.

Your child may need feeding treatment if you see any of these signs:

  • Arching or stiffening of the body during feeding
  • Irritability or lack of alertness during feeding
  • Failure to accept different textures of food
  • Prolonged feeding times (more than 30 minutes)
  • Excessive drooling or leaking food/liquid from the mouth
  • Wet, hoarse or breathy voice quality
  • Coughing, gagging or throwing up during or after meals
  • Recurring pneumonia or respiratory infections
  • Difficulty coordinating breathing with eating or drinking
  • Frequent spitting up
  • Less-than-normal weight gain or growth
  • Pocketing food in the mouth for prolonged periods
Outpatient Feeding Program - Pediatrics and Kids

To receive feeding treatment, you’ll need a physician’s evaluation and a written prescription.

Comprehensive Services
Depending on your child’s needs, he or she may benefit from these services.

Oral motor evaluation
A specially trained speech-language pathologist or occupational therapist will complete a clinical feeding evaluation, including a review of your child’s medical history and reports from other health care providers. Nutrition support is available from a registered dietitian.

Videofluoroscopic swallow study (VFSS)
This is an x-ray video that provides your child’s feeding therapy team a way to record, observe and assess the way your child swallows. We provide same-day initial results and recommendations. Video swallow studies are provided only at our Grand Rapids location with follow-up treatment available in Holland.

Feeding therapy
Coordinated by our multidisciplinary team, we also work with other community providers such as WIC, Early On, schools, specialty clinics, VNA and referring physicians. Some areas of focus are:
• Decreasing oral defensiveness and aversion
• Learning new ways to meet a child’s needs
• Optimal positioning to increase safety
• Oral motor strengthening and coordination
• Diet modifications to increase safety and improve respiratory health
• Acceptance of new foods and textures
• Acceptance of age-appropriate variety and amount
• Family and caregiver feeding education.

View our Outcomes here.

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