Feeding Difficulty / Picky Eaters

Feeding Difficulty / Picky Eaters

What is Feeding Therapy?

Feeding therapy is a collaborative approach to help find and treat the root cause of feeding difficulties, while implementing strategies to make mealtimes more enjoyable and productive for everyone in the family. Our feeding therapy team addresses both the oral motor and sensory processing skills needed to complete the complex task of eating. For children with feeding difficulties, mealtimes go from enjoyable family time to challenging, stress-inducing experiences. Feeding therapy can help children with very limited diets learn to accept a broader variety of foods.

Our feeding team is made up of both Occupational Therapists and Speech Language Pathologists who are trained in the SOS Approach to Feeding. The SOS (Sequential-Oral-Sensory) Approach to Feeding Program was developed by Dr. Kay Toomey and is used worldwide to treat feeding issues in infants, children, and adolescents. It is a transdisciplinary, holistic and family-centered program based on Dr. Toomey’s 30 years of clinical experience in treating children who struggle to eat. The SOS Approach to Feeding is an evidence based systematic desensitization program designed to address all underlying difficulties causing selective eating.

Picky eating is never a behavior problem. There is always a root cause to feeding difficulties, let us help you find those!

How do I know if my child needs feeding therapy?

Some signs your child might need feeding therapy are:

  • Poor weight gain and growth
  • Avoiding all foods of a certain texture or food group
  • Having less than 20 consistently eaten foods
  • History of feeding difficulties as an infant
  • Having trouble with chewing, choking, gagging, or vomiting during meal times
  • Mealtimes feel like a consistent struggle
  • Your child eats a food consistently and then suddenly drops it from their preferred food list
  • Your child requires brand or presentation specificity in order to eat


If my child needs feeding therapy, what might treatment look like?

Did you know there are actually 32 steps to eating? While we often think about eating as bite, chew, swallow, it is actually much more than that - eating is a very complex task! These 32 steps can be broken down into six areas: tolerating the sight of a new food, interacting with the food with utensils, tolerating the smell of a new food, tolerating touching the new food, and tolerating the taste of the new food. Only after your child is able to master the skills in these six areas will he/she be ready to actually consume the food! Your child’s therapist will design a plan called a food chain. A food chain is a carefully planned out sequence of foods that starts with something that is highly preferred by your child. Each subsequent food is changed slightly by one sensory aspect- either color, shape, texture, or flavor. Your child’s therapist will present them with each food from the food chain and help them to move through the 32 steps of eating. Your child’s therapist will also give you suggestions on how to change your mealtime environment at home to make mealtimes more successful and enjoyable.

Treatment will focus on increasing your child’s repertoire of foods. The goal of feeding therapy is not to get your child eating a specific food, but to get them to accept a variety of different foods.

For more information on selective eating and the SOS Approach to feeding, check out their website: https://sosapproachtofeeding.com/