What are Feeding Assessments?


Feeding Assessments

Feeding therapy is a specialized branch of occupational therapy involving specifically targeted  treatments to address drooling, gagging, vomiting, decreased food/texture tolerance,  and decreased strength or range of motion of the mouth and other facial structures.  When a child has difficulty eating, it can affect all members of the family.  Noble Therapy offers expertise in evaluation of functional feeding skills and provides families support with these complex challenges.  During a functional oral motor/feeding evaluation, your child will receive a clinical evaluation of oral motor/sensory skills and developmental feeding skills during directed play activities and with a mealtime/snacktime.  Parents are encouraged to provide familiar food to make the evaluation as natural as possible.  It is helpful to have some preferred foods that your child accepts, as well as foods that he/she refuses to eat available during the evaluation.   Also, access to preferred utensils and cups may also be beneficial.  Varieties of textures/flavors of foods may also be provided by the examiner.  Your child may participate in the evaluation more readily if he/she is hungry; therefore, we prefer that parents not feed the child approximately 1-2 hours prior to the appointment time.  Family members are encouraged to participate in this evaluation.  Families should allow approximately 1-1 1/2 hours for the completion of this assessment.  Following the assessment, the therapist will provide the family with recommendations and will follow up with a detailed evaluation report.  Should the examiner deem appropriate, suggestions for referrals to other specialties such as otolaryngology, gastroenterology, pulmonary, nutrition, etc. may be provided.

Feeding Therapy Process:

  • Evaluation: Your therapist will perform a baseline evaluation to assess possible issues. This visit may be videotaped with your permission for reference.
  • Intervention: Once a treatment plan is established, treatment will be given for 6 month.  At that time, a reassessment will take place to determine current level of function and ongoing goals or discharge planning.
  • Home Suggestions: Suggestions will be provided based on assessment findings.  Being comfortable with your home program and performing it daily is critical to your child’s success. Your therapist will create a home program, train parents/family members and follow up regularly with adjustments as needed to maximize your child’s potential for feeding/eating. Home visits for feeding therapy are offered and encouraged. 

Oral Motor/Feeding Milestones

  • 4-6 months- Babies introduced to soft solid foods such as cereals and pureed fruits and vegetables. Cup drinking may also be introduced (6 months)
  • 6-9 months- Soft cookies may be introduced as well as ground or lumpy solids.
  • 10-12 months-Mashed or soft table foods are introduced, babies will also take most of their liquids from a cup. 
  • 12 months- babies have a controlled bite and are able to bite through cookies.
  • 13-15 months- Continued improvement with biting skills, will also use a straw or regular cup.
  • 16-18 months- Children are given more challenging foods that require chewing, such as meats and vegetables.