In this section
To assist families in managing feeding difficulties it is essential to distinguish behaviours that are considered to fit within the expectations of typical development from those that are more complex requiring more specialist interventions.
For mild or less severe feeding difficulties identified as being consistent with typical feeding development there are many studies describing successful interventions. Interventions are based on understanding and reinforcing children’s ‘normal’ developmental eating patterns. The primary aim of many of these studies is to:
The Feeding Development Framework outlines the key elements of supportive mealtime environments
Early intervention can prevent progression to a more severe or complex feeding difficulty:
Evidence based guidelines for the management of more complex or severe feeding difficulties are lacking. As such, there is no universally accepted method of management. In the absence of evidence based guidelines it is recommended that health professionals aim to support typical feeding development within a supportive mealtime environment.
Interventions should be targeted to areas identified as contributing to the development or maintenance of the feeding difficulty with strategies aimed at achieving small but sustainable changes. The strategies used will usually vary for each child and should build on the child and family’s strengths.
Management may involve an interdisciplinary team including – Paediatrician, Dietitian, Speech Pathologist, Maternal and Child Health Nurse, Lactation Consultant, Psychologist, Social worker Occupational Therapist, Physiotherapist, Education professionals. The variety of health professionals required or available for each child will vary. Not all children will need the attention of all disciplines. The nature and severity of their difficulty will dictate whom is the most appropriate to assess and intervene.