402-933-2882 info@zierinstitute.com

Feeding Therapy

Mealtimes are a time for learning and love. Sharing a meal can be a way for a family to spend time together before the start of a busy day or to re-connect after school and work. Calm and happy mealtimes provide space for parents to nourish their child’s body and the child-parent relationship.

Feeding Therapy by Zier Institute & Amy Zier + Associates

When a child is viewed as “refusing to eat new foods” or is not eating as much as parents and caregivers believe they “should,” they are often labeled as “picky eaters.” Fortunately, some children outgrow eating issues, while others need help overcoming these challenges. 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 all together. Feeding therapy can be a lifeline/important support for parents who recognize their child is struggling and want to restore mealtime peace at the dinner table. Through the process of working with a feeding therapist, parents will learn why their child is struggling to enjoy eating and how they can help. Parents and feeding therapists partner together to restore the joy of shared mealtimes.

There are lots of reasons why a child may struggle to eat. Some children have had early developmental experiences that make eating challenging.  Other children may have sensory systems that cause them to be sensitive 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.

Many parents struggle with anxiety or guilt when their child is not growing or eating well.  A feeding therapist will work with parents to provide guidance and a supportive emotional environment at the family’s table.

Feeding therapy can help restore a child’s relationship with food and mealtimes.

Welcome Karen Dilfer, MS, OTR/L!

We’re excited to welcome feeding therapist, Karen Dilfer, MS, OTR/L, to our team of pediatric experts. 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.

Click here to learn more in this recent article on Karen and her experience in the Chicago Tribune.

Karen will be working out of our Chicago clinic, Amy Zier + Associates for in-person feeding therapy treatment. She’ll also be providing online Teletherapy options during COVID-19 for feeding therapy needs in Nebraska and around the country.


We can help

Our Feeding Therapy includes but is not limited to:

  • Assistance with ongoing management of feeding tubes, introduction of oral eating during a tube transition, tube wean
  • Support for children with food allergies
  • Guidance for peaceful mealtimes with anxious eaters
  • Support for children and adolescents with a diagnosis of ARFID
  • Support to help children with sensory feeding challenges


Our feeding program promotes a child-led and trust-based approach. Our feeding program focuses on helping children and their families enjoy mealtime as the child expands their curiosity and shifts their mindset about food.

  • Thorough occupational assessment of your child’s eating habits
  • Personalized treatment plan based on age, temperament, and family history
  • Guide for handling bumps in the road
  • Ongoing support

Follow the Leader

Feeding therapy is child-led and they are never forced to eat. By observing the child’s behavior regarding food, we create a plan that suits the individual child rather than one tailored to meet any preconceived ideas about what they “should be” eating.

How Much is Enough?

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 the expectations of parents while motivating children with new foods they may enjoy.

Celebrate Food

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.

Broaden their Horizon

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.

Read the Food Cues

Children will tell us what they like and do not like through their behaviors, expressions or outright defiance. With feeding challenges, parents, caregivers and therapists need to learn the specific cues of each child and react positively to avoid deeper food afflictions. 

Hungry for Help

Feeding 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 aimed at finding the right solution for your unique child.

Exploring Habits

As Pediatric Occupational Therapists, we provide the tools your family needs to improve on feeding, swallowing, and family mealtime. We center these tools around your child’s profile, behavior, and current routines while exploring changes to their eating habits.


Individualized approach

We are here for you. If you have any additional questions or would like to understand more about our feeding program, please give us a call at 402-933-2882, email us, or schedule a free consultation. We look forward to speaking with you.

Do you work alongside other professionals and pediatricians?

Zier Institute takes a comprehensive approach to all of our services and partners with doctors, teachers, and other professionals to ensure the best solution for your child and family. A one size fits all feeding plan doesn’t exist. We welcome partnering with other professionals while working to find a treatment plan that is perfect for your family.

How long does it take?

Eating therapy results depend on the age of the child and the particular issues they have around feeding – sensory, physical, emotional, etc. Some may experience differences within a few days or the first week, while others need consistency over a longer period of time before everything begins to click.


What can we expect from working with you?

Before the initial consultation, Zier Institute sends intake forms that enable us to understand family dynamics and detailed information about your family activities, and current challenges with eating. We will then schedule an in-clinic or virtual consultation which leads to a personalized feeding therapy plan. Our 3-week plans include varying levels of support based on your family and child’s profile.


Why is feeding therapy important for my family?

Zier Institute brings a multi-disciplinary approach to creating feeding therapy for families. As board-certified occupational therapists, specializing in DIR/Floortime® therapy, our holistic methods focus not only on eating habits and sensory issues but rather the family dynamic during mealtime. In doing so, we are often able to determine eating plans and meal methods that help your child.

Ready to get started?

Call us at 402-933-2882, set up an appointment for a free consultation or email us today!