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    Feeding

    Our Feeding Program is designed to help children who have medical conditions that have affected their feeding and growth. Treatment is geared to help children overcome these feeding issues and establish proper feeding and nutritional habits so that additional health problems can be avoided.

    An interdisciplinary team of specialists works with each child and family to address the multiple factors involved with eating. The program takes a supportive, comprehensive approach that not only incorporates a child's medical and developmental needs, but addresses behavioral and oral-motor feeding issues as well as family education and training.

    Services provided

    We serve children from birth to age 21 with feeding issues including:

    • Food/drink refusal
    • Inability to chew and/or swallow
    • Recurrent gagging or vomiting
    • Food or swallowing phobias
    • Food selectivity (by type or texture)
    • Mealtime behavior problems (tantrums, lengthy meals)
    • Failure to thrive (unable to gain proper weight for age)
    • Tube-dependency (nasogastric or gastrostomy tubes)

    The medical diagnoses and underlying conditions which can lead to feeding issues include, but are not limited to: autism, cerebral palsy, craniofacial anomalies, cystic fibrosis, dysphagia, failure to thrive, food allergies, gastroesophageal motility disorders, gastrointestinal pain,
    gastroesophageal reflux, genetic syndromes, reactive airway disease, metabolic disorders, oral-motor dysfunction, prematurity and short bowel syndrome.

    Feeding treatment programs

    The initial feeding clinic appointment includes medical and nutritional services. If it is determined that feeding therapy is needed, we will schedule follow-up appointments with a feeding therapist and behavioral psychologist. There are two copays for the initial visit.

    For mild to moderate feeding problems, children may be recommended for the outpatient program which usually involves weekly visits for feeding therapy with a feeding therapist and psychologist, follow-up visits in the feeding clinic, and additional appointments as needed for services like nutrition.

    Our day patient program is for children with moderate to severe feeding problems who are medically stable. This program involves approximately three hours of therapy each day, Monday-Friday, for six to eight weeks. We assemble an interdisciplinary care team to address each child's specific needs. The team includes behavioral psychologists, doctors, dietitians, feeding therapists (specially trained occupational therapists and speech/language pathologists), nurse practitioners and a social worker. Recreation therapy is also consulted as needed.

    Family-centered care

    Treatment can only be successful if the benefits transition to a child's daily life, so family is a crucial part of treatment and an important part of the care team. Training/education for parents begins once an effective treatment has been established. Other caregivers, such as teachers and relatives, also receive training, which often occurs in the child's daily living settings. Aftercare, consisting of outpatient therapy and follow-up visits, provides further support and ensures strides made during treatment are maintained.

    Day patient feeding service

    The Day Patient Feeding Program is designed for children with moderate to severe feeding problems who are medically stable and in need of an intensive treatment approach. Therapy is scheduled from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. and typically involves three treatment sessions per day.

    The interdisciplinary care team includes specialists in pediatrics, behavioral psychology, nutrition, feeding therapy (specially trained occupational therapists and speech/language pathologists), social work and nursing.

    Day patient treatment includes:

    • Feeding Therapy. This includes a baseline behavioral feeding assessment; 3 feeding therapy sessions daily at set times, with scheduled play and nap times; and a therapeutic recreation program. You are responsible for your child's care while in the program and should bring all medications, diaper and feeding supplies when needed. You should also make other arrangements for siblings.
    • Weekly Meetings. The treatment team and a primary therapist review your child's progress with you, set goals and the date of discharge, and answer any questions you may have.
    • Family Training. Family members observe therapy sessions from outside the treatment room. When successful feeding techniques are established, we teach you and other caregivers (teachers, babysitters, grandparents, etc.) to participate in feeding sessions, eventually becoming your child's primary feeder.
    • Follow-up Services.
    -Outpatient visits and clinic appointments after discharge
    -Phone calls or emails to address any issues
    -Coordination with professionals in your area for continuing treatment 
    for out-of-town patients 

    Outpatient feeding service

    The Outpatient Feeding Program typically involves weekly visits for therapy and other services. This level of care is for:

    • Less severe feeding problems that can be addressed through family training and do not require the more intense Day Patient Feeding Program
    • Continued treatment after completion of the Day Patient Feeding Program
    • Monitoring a child's response to treatment when the Day Patient Feeding Program is being considered.

    Outpatient feeding therapy is provided by feeding therapists (occupational therapists and speech/language pathologists with special training) along with psychologists, nutritionists and nurse practitioners.

    Therapy sessions train family members and other caregivers to manage problematic feeding issues at home. Menu planning is an additional focus; you will be encouraged to bring food from home so your child's therapist can monitor the type and texture of the child's food.

    Virtual tour: Feeding therapy

    Appointments and location

    (804) 828-CHOR (2467)

    Evaluations and follow-up:
    Children's Pavilion
    Fredericksburg Multispecialty Center

    Day program and outpatient therapy:
    Brook Road Campus

    Preparing for Your First Visit

    The following documents and forms will be sent to new patient families to complete/review prior to their first visit:

    ›› Meet the Team

    The medical staff of the Feeding Program comprises a pediatric physician, pediatric nurse practitioner and nurses. The team also includes licensed clinical psychologists, registered dietitians, speech-language pathologists, occupational therapists, feeding technicians, and scheduling coordinators.


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    For Appointments,
    Call 1.804.828.2467.

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