Feeding therapist spoon-feeding toddler boy in highchair

Your child may have a feeding disorder if he has problems developing his feeding skills, such as breastfeeding, taking a bottle, eating from a utensil, chewing food or drinking from a glass. A swallowing disorder occurs when a child’s body has trouble moving food and liquids from the mouth to the stomach.

How can feeding and swallowing disorders impact my child?

Difficulty with eating and drinking can significantly impact a child’s overall health and development. It can lead to:

  • Dehydration
  • Malnutrition
  • Poor weight gain
  • Respiratory problems
  • Aspiration (when food or liquid gets into the lungs)

What causes feeding and swallowing problems in children?

There are many different medical conditions associated with feeding and swallowing problems in children. Some of the common conditions include:

At Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, we care for infants, children and teens with common and rare feeding and swallowing problems, including:

  • Pediatric dysphagia
  • Feeding tube dependence
  • Food avoidance or restriction
  • Food selectivity or extreme pickiness
  • Difficulty chewing food
  • Lack of or difficulty self-feeding
  • Tantrums or protests during meal or snack times
  • Excessive time to consume meals or snacks
  • Poor weight gain
  • Nutritional deficiency

At Children’s, we offer the following services for children with feeding and swallowing problems. Our services are provided by expert clinicians who specialize in working with kids who have difficulty eating and drinking. Each child will receive services based on their individualized needs.

  • Inpatient speech pathology: The following services may be ordered by your child’s medical team during your child’s hospital stay to help determine the most optimal nutrition and hydration plan of care.
    • Clinical evaluation and treatment
    • Video fluoroscopic swallow study (VFSS/OPMS)
    • Flexible endoscopic swallowing study (FEES)
  • Instrumental swallowing diagnostics: Your child’s doctor may refer your child for an initial or repeat instrumental swallowing test at one of our hospital campuses or outpatient imaging locations.
  • Multidisciplinary Feeding Program: Some feeding and swallowing difficulties require a more intensive and structured approach. Our Multidisciplinary Feeding Program involves a team of specialists providing care within the same clinic.
  • Outpatient rehabilitation: A speech-language pathologist or occupational therapist will provide an assessment and/or treatment that may include:
    • Clinical feeding and swallowing evaluation
    • Feeding and swallowing therapy (speech and occupational)
    • Preparation for a VFSS/OPMS, which is a swallowing assessment in radiology
    • Outpatient rehabilitation case management and social work support

We offer pediatric feeding and swallowing services at the following locations: