Feeding Team Services
The Multi-Disciplinary Pediatric Feeding Team is a collaborative service designed to provide evaluation and treatment services for children with feeding problems.
Children have feeding problems for a variety of reasons, including oral-motor delays, behavior problems, and medical complications. Often, feeding difficulties are related to several factors at once. Our team approach allows for evaluation of behavioral, medical, and oral-motor concerns while providing your family with ongoing nutritional counseling at the same time.
Our Team Approach
The Feeding Team includes staff from several departments of the hospital. Collaboration with your child’s primary care physician is also emphasized.
- Clinical Nutrition
- Speech Therapy
- Occupational Therapy
The Feeding Team is dedicated to caring for the individual needs of your child. An interview with your family typically lasts 90 minutes and includes observation of your child eating a meal.
During the interview, we will collect information about your child's developmental history, nutritional intake and psychosocial history. We will also gather detailed information specifically related to your child's feeding situation:
- Information about mealtime behaviors that interfere with your child’s ability to eat, as well as other behavior problems
- Oral-motor skills, ability to process information from the five senses, self-feeding issues
- Nutritional status such as current calorie intake and analysis of vitamin and mineral intake
- Growth status
- Developmental and medical history
At the end of the interview, the Feeding Team will sit down with your family to discuss recommendations for treatment. We provide families with written instructions to take home and encourage you to call with questions. Follow-up visits allow us to modify recommendations as needed, and monitor weight changes, nutritional intake, oral-motor skills, self-feeding skills, and follow-through on behavioral guidelines.
Day of the Appointment
It is important for us to see your child eat at the time of his or her appointment, so please bring your child hungry. Do not give your child any food or drinks (water is fine) at least 2 hours before your appointment. We will provide a meal for your child. If your child has allergies, please notify us prior to your appointment.
You will receive a packet to be completed prior to your appointment. Please bring that packet with you on the day of your visit.
When to Call the Feeding Team
- Your child snacks or eats only preferred foods because his or her behaviors are unmanageable or because as a parent, you feel “at least my child is eating.”
- Your child begins to narrow his or her food choices to the point of only having a few preferred foods. Some parents report that they have to make “special” meals for their child almost every meal.
- Your child is not making expected weight gain despite numerous recommendations, including nutritional supplements (ex: failure to thrive)
- Your child eats food that is developmentally inappropriate for his or her age (ex: still taking a bottle at age 2 or difficulty transitioning from baby food to table food).
- You have to take your child’s preferred food with you when you go out to eat.
- Your child does not like or is unable to tolerate certain textures of food (ex: refuses smooth textures or gags when eating)
- Your child has stopped eating after having a negative experience while eating, such as choking.
Patients need to be referred to the Feeding Team by a physician. To schedule an appointment, please call 314-577-5669.
Once you have made an appointment, please contact your physician’s office and ask that your child’s growth grid be faxed to the Feeding Team at 314-268-4026.
Meet the Team
Alissa Zimmerman, OTR Occupational Therapist
- Assesses sensory and oral motor skills related to feeding
- Assesses feeding environment for adaptive equipment needs
- Provides education on improving oral sensory skills (taste, feel, smell)
Michelle L.J. Black, Clinical Pediatric Psychologist
- Observes parent-child interactions during mealtime
- Identifies problematic behaviors at mealtime
- Provides education about age-appropriate development and behavior
- Teaches behavior modification techniques to improve mealtime behavior
Barb Oehler, RDLD, Clinical Dietitian
- Obtains weight and height
- Obtains diet history, food preferences and food tolerances
- Assesses adequacy of child’s intake
- Educates on variety of foods to eat and appropriate portion sizes
Christy Meyer, MA CCC/SLP, Speech/Language Pathologist
- Assesses oral and pharyngeal stages of swallowing
- Provides instruction on improving oral motor skills (chewing tongue/lip movement)
- Provides modifications to diet if warranted