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Feeding Evaluation, Treatment and Management

Mother feeding toddler sitting in a high chair
Children's National Hospital speech-language pathologists are trained to evaluate feeding disorders from birth to young adulthood. We use both clinical observation and instrumental assessment to determine overall feeding skills.

Our Providers

Our pediatric specialists provide personalized care for your child’s physical, mental and emotional health needs.

Contact Information

To make an appointment, please call 1-888-884-BEAR (2327). For information, call 202-476-5600.

The Hearing and Speech Center at Children’s National Hospital has a variety of programs and services to help care for and treat your child’s needs. Your child will have access to the latest advances in hearing and speech, with treatments based on our cutting-edge research and our commitment to providing age-appropriate, personalized care for your child.

Feeding Evaluation

We utilize different techniques, depending upon your child's developmental/chronological age. Our evaluations may include:

  • Clinical swallow evaluation. During this evaluation, the speech-language pathologist assesses your child's oral motor skills with feeding as well as any sensory issues in the context of a typical mealtime.
  • Instrumental assessment of swallowing. Based on your child's evaluation we may recommend further assessment of your child's swallowing. Your child may be referred for a Modified Barium Swallow Study (MBS) or Fiberoptic Endoscopic Evaluation of Swallowing (FEES).

Symptoms of Feeding Disorders

  • Your infant only feeds when sleeping
  • Your infant or child coughs or chokes when eating or drinking
  • Your child has difficulty advancing to a developmentally appropriate diet
  • Your child accepts a limited variety of food

Feeding Treatment and Management

We provide compassionate support for children and families as they manage the challenges of pediatric feeding disorders. This includes direct treatment and caregiver education and training on swallowing strategies.

Your child's speech-language pathologist will determine specific treatment for pediatric feeding disorders based on:

  • Your child's age, overall health and medical history
  • Your child's oral motor skills and sensory issues associated with feeding
  • Your child's mealtime routine
  • Any instrumental assessment of your child's swallow function such as a Modified Barium Swallow Study (MBS) or Fiberoptic Endoscopic Evaluation of Swallowing (FEES).

Management of pediatric feeding may include one or more of the following:

  • Direct treatment. Based on your child's evaluation we may initiate feeding therapy using the Sequential Oral Sensory (SOS) approach to feeding.
  • Caregiver training. We provide caregiver training on diet recommendations, methods for offering liquids and foods, swallowing strategies and structuring mealtimes.
  • Collaboration with other specialists. Our clinicians collaborate with specialists such as gastroenterology, otolaryngology, pulmonology and psychology to develop a comprehensive, safe and developmentally appropriate feeding plan for your child. We assist families with weaning their child from nasogastric tubes or gastrostomy tubes. 

PATIENT STORY

Molly's Story

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