toddler boy sitting in a high chair smiling with chocolate cake all over the plate and his face.

Wolfson Children's Feeding Program

At Wolfson Children’s Hospital, we understand the special needs of families and children with feeding and swallowing problems. Parents and caregivers receive ongoing education on feeding techniques specific to their child’s condition, while therapists promote positive feeding experiences that are safe, nutritious and nurturing.

Feeding and swallowing problems in children can be complex, with serious consequences to your child’s health. Left untreated, feeding difficulties can lead to:

  • Poor nutrition, poor weight gain and growth
  • Poor suck, swallow and breathing coordination
  • Increased airway congestion, choking, gagging, coughing and vomiting during feeding
  • Frequent upper respiratory problems like infections, asthma or pneumonia
  • Agitation or discomfort during or after a feeding
  • Limited diet and picky eating habits

All of our evaluation and treatment approaches are based on the latest pediatric feeding research and we coordinate care with physicians, dietitians, behavioral specialists, occupational therapists and speech-language pathologists.

For children with complex medical conditions discharged from the hospital, our outpatient therapists have the knowledge and expertise to guide the transition off of feeding tubes.

Does my child need the Wolfson Children's Feeding Program?

The Wolfson Children's Feeding Program could help your child if he or she:

  • Coughs or chokes with food or drink
  • Has difficult mealtime behaviors
  • Experiences increased crying, irritability or fussiness during mealtime
  • Cannot drink properly from a bottle or cup
  • Refuses to eat or drink or has picky eating habits
  • Overstuffs his or her mouth with food, pockets food in cheeks or lets food rest on tongue
  • Will only eat a limited number of foods
  • Is unable to eat enough by mouth and depends on a feeding tube to gain weight

Your child might also show sensory problems that result in feeding difficulties, such as:

  • Refusal to allow food on hands or face
  • Too strong or too weak response to food or objects around the mouth
  • Negative reactions to smells or sights of food
  • Difficulty adapting to different food textures
  • Difficulty brushing their teeth
  • Frequent gagging

Sometimes, movement limitations of the tongue, lips and jaw can lead to problems with feeding or swallowing. If your child has oral movement problems, they may have:

  • Poor coordination during bottle or breastfeeding, such as coughing, working hard to breathe, spilling milk out of the mouth or taking longer than 30 minutes to feed
  • Poor ability to manage food or liquids in his mouth, like food spilling from the mouth or leaking from the nose
  • Difficulty clearing food from a spoon
  • Weakness or difficulty with biting and/or chewing
  • Trouble changing to a straw or open cup

Conditions We Treat

We are experienced in all childhood conditions that may affect a child’s ability to eat, drink or swallow successfully. These include:

  • Nervous system disorders like cerebral palsy, meningitis or encephalopathy
  • Gastrointestinal conditions (i.e., reflux, "short gut" syndrome)
  • Gastric feeding tubes (G-tubes)
  • Prematurity and/or low birth weight
  • Heart defects
  • Cleft palate
  • Airway conditions
  • Autism spectrum disorder
  • Respiratory difficulties
  • Problems with parent-child interactions at meal times
  • Negative behaviors associated with mealtime
Speech-language pathologist working with a pediatric patient

Our Wolfson Children's Feeding Program is offered at these locations: