Help is here. Feeding Therapy by Zier Institute
Mealtimes may feel challenging and stressful for families when a child struggles to enjoy eating. Children and their parents might begin to avoid family mealtimes or stop eating. Feeding therapy at Zier Institute is available for newborns through adolescence.
Feeding therapy can be a lifeline for parents who recognize their child is struggling and those who want to restore mealtime peace at the dinner table. Through feeding therapy, parents will learn why their child may be struggling to enjoy eating and how they can help. Parents and feeding therapists partner together to restore the joy of family mealtimes.
There are a wide variety of reasons why a child may struggle to eat. Some children have early developmental experiences that make eating challenging. Others have sensory systems that cause sensitivity to the textures, smells and flavors of foods. Specific medical conditions, discoordination/coordination difficulties, food allergies, social pressure and anxiety can all contribute to a child’s feeding struggles.
Parents often struggle with anxiety or guilt when their child is not growing or eating well. Zier Institute’s feeding therapists work with parents to provide guidance and a supportive emotional environment. Feeding therapy can help restore a child’s relationship with food and mealtimes.
How do I know if my child needs feeding therapy?
Below are a few common behaviors parents report experiencing with their children:
- Dinner table tantrums
- Picky eating
- Non-stop snacking
- Poor nutritional choices
- Mealtime meltdowns
Contact us today to learn how we can help your unique challenges!
- Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Call us at 402-933-2882
We are looking forward to hearing from you.
Welcome Crystal Coffman, OTD, OTR/L!
We’re excited to welcome feeding therapist Crystal Coffman, OTD, OTR/L, to our team of pediatric experts. Crystal brings extensive experience creating successful treatment plans for picky eaters to Zier Institute. Her expertise helps children enjoy food and reduce mealtime battles. Crystal is trained and certified in the SOS Approach to Feeding and is mentored by pediatric feeding expert Karen Dilfer, MS, OTR/L, teacher of the “Get Permission” approach to mealtimes and the Chicago Feeding Group, a non-profit organization that supports therapists and families with responsive feeding practices.
Karen Dilfer, MS, OTR/L
Additionally, part of our pediatric expert team is, Karen Dilfer, MS, OTR/L out of our Chicago clinic, Amy Zier + Associates. Karen has extensive experience in creating successful treatment plans that help children enjoy food and reduce mealtime battles. Karen mentored with Marsha Dunn Klein, MEd, OTR/L, creator of the “Get Permission” approach to mealtimes and an expert in the field of pediatric feeding.
Karen and Chrystal collaborate on treatments, methodologies and intervention plans. Karen provides in-person feeding therapy treatment in Chicago as well as online therapy options for out of state clients.
Looking at Feeding Through a Developmental Lens
Eating is complex! It involves our body’s organs, muscles, and sensory systems. Mealtimes are highly social experiences. ‘Picky eating or ‘Refusal to eat’ is described; however, it can result from many different factors, not behavior problems.
Our Feeding Therapy includes but is not limited to:
- Guidance for peaceful mealtimes with anxious eaters
- Support for children and adolescents with a diagnosis of ARFID
- Support to help children with sensory and motor feeding challenges
Zier Institute’s food therapy helps children overcome these challenges successfully. We work on-site with children and can help parents, caregivers and educators with strategies for ongoing support.
If you answer YES to any of the following statements, the child might benefit from food feeding therapy:
- The child doesn’t appear to enjoy eating
- The child has difficulty trying new foods
- The child has trouble sitting at the table
- The child eats fewer than 20 different foods
- Mealtimes feel consistently and intensely stressful
- The child has difficulty eating in a variety of settings (i.e., home, school, restaurant)
- The child prefers certain brands of food and needs food prepared in a specific way.
- The child may cry or meltdown when a portion of new food is placed on their plate or another person’s plate at the table.
- The child will not eat foods that are hard to chew, e.g., meat, raw fruits, and raw vegetables.
- The child may choke, gag or cough during mealtimes
How it works – There are many ways to address feeding, we focus on the relationship!
Nutrition is a primary concern for parents of picky eaters. Can a specific brand of Mac n’ Cheese, chicken nuggets, or crackers provide the nutrition they need to grow and thrive? We help calm parents’ expectations while motivating children with new foods they may enjoy.
Part of childhood is enjoying birthday parties, family celebrations, and social time with friends. Parents of picky eaters understand that any occasion involving food requires extra planning and an extra helping of stress. Eating therapy works to eliminate or reduce the anxieties associated with food.
Eating therapy is a collaboration between the child, parents, therapist, and doctors. Helping children eat a healthy diet, at any age or given any circumstance, is complicated. Our occupational therapists are part of the care team to find the right solution for your unique child.
Anxious or picky eaters may repetitively request and only eat a small assortment of foods, often prepared in a very specific way – down to the cup or plate it is served upon. Our goal is to understand the appeal of these foods and expand their food choices based on this knowledge.
Children will tell us what they like and do not like through their behaviors, expressions, or outright defiance. With eating challenges, parents, caregivers, and therapists need to learn the specific cues of each child and react positively to avoid deeper food afflictions.
Our feeding program promotes a child-led and trust-based approach. We focus on helping children and their families enjoy mealtime as the child expands their curiosity and shifts their mindset about food.
Do you work alongside other professionals and pediatricians?
How long does it take?
What can we expect from working with you?