Feeding Therapy: Building skills for positive mealtimes

Ever had a mealtime with your child result in tears? Mealtimes more stressful than fun? You don’t have to struggle alone. Building skills for positive eating can be a stress-free experience with Allay occupational therapist’s feeding therapy. Allay OT offer an engaging, play-based feeding program, based upon the Sequential-Oral-Sensory (SOS) approach, that aims to support you and your family to develop a healthy relationship with food and promote successful mealtimes in your home.


What is SOS Feeding Therapy?

The SOS approach to feeding is an evidence based program designed to help assess and treat children experiencing feeding difficulties. We work with you and your child to discover the underlying causes of their feeding challenges. We then take a family-centred, play-based approach to gradually increase your child’s comfort and confidence with foods and build skills for positive eating.

The SOS approach is based upon 25 years of clinical research regarding the steps, stages, and skills of feeding necessary for good health, wellbeing and growth in childhood. The evidence highlights the effectiveness of this approach in supporting a child’s sensory, motor, oral, learning, medical and nutritional factors that promote positive feeding habits and improved growth.


Would my child benefit from feeding therapy?

Every child is different, but if mealtimes are a struggle or your child is developing concerning eating habits, it might be time to seek help building skills for positive eating. Your child could benefit from Allay OT’s Feeding Therapy Program if they:

  • Are a fussy eater
  • Only eat a small number of foods
  • Dislike certain colored or textured foods
  • Are gaining or losing excessive weight
  • Are constantly bloated
  • Have difficulty chewing or swallowing
  • Take too long to eat meals
  • Cry or are distressed during meals
  • Spit out food
  • Choke, vomit, or gag when eating
  • Have food come out of their nose
  • Struggle to transition to solid foods by 12 months old
  • Struggle to use a spoon or fork by 24 months old
  • Eat non-food items such as dirt and paper


What to Expect from Feeding Therapy?

At Allay OT we believe in equipping you and your child with all the skills you need to succeed at mealtime.

Our trained OTs will work closely with you and your child to understand the root of their eating difficulties and explore the best approach for them. We use an individualised, hands-on, play-based approach to encourage them to explore and learn about the properties of food. Together, we’ll interact with food in a playful, stress-free, messy, and fun environment that supports them to gradually discover foods in six stages:

  • Look – the first step is learning to tolerate the presence and appearance of food nearby
  • Explore – next, we interact with the food indirectly, such as with utensils
  • Smell – we adjust your child to the odour of the food
  • Feel – next, we explore how the food feels on their hands, body, and in their mouth
  • Taste – then, we slowly adjust to the taste of the food, starting by putting it on the tip of the tongue and spitting it out
  • Eat – finally, your child will be ready to try chewing and swallowing the food

We simultaneously support you and your family to implement individualised strategies at mealtimes that can best support a positive relationship with food. Depending on your child’s needs, strategies might include:

  • Gradually introducing a wider range of food colours or textures
  • Learning to reframe foods in a positive way
  • Establishing healthy mealtime habits

Allay OT offer both individual and group based programs, depending on you and your child’s feeding needs and goals. Child sessions are held weekly, alongside regular parent education and support consultations. If you are ready to shift to a positive and enjoyable mealtime, contact us today to begin your journey.