Speech Therapy to Address Picky Eating vs. Problem Feeding

Do you have a child who only eats certain things and refuses to try new foods? Does your child refuse to eat food altogether? If you answered yes to either of these questions, your child might be a picky eater or problem feeder. For proper physical, emotional, cognitive, and speech development, you need to ensure your child eats a balanced diet of a variety of foods that contain protein, complex carbohydrates, and healthy fats.

Symptoms of a Picky Eater and Problem Feeder

Being a picky eater or problem feeder affects your child’s development and can result in medical problems. As such, it is important to determine whether your child falls into one of these two categories so proper intervention steps and therapy can be undertaken.

If any of the following characterize your child, you have a picky eater on your hands:

  • Eats foods from one category or a few in each category
  • Has a limited number of foods he or she will eat (usually around 30)
  • Usually eats food from all texture groups
  • Will generally tolerate trying new foods
  • It takes anywhere from 12 to 25 steps on the Steps to Eating Hierarchy to add a new food to a picky eater’s food repertoire

If any of the following characterize your child, you have a problem feeder on your hands:

  • Not unusual that child cries or breaks down when faced with new food
  • Has a limited number of foods he or she will eat (usually less than 20)
  • Often refuses to eat entire categories of food textures
  • Often prefers food of one taste, such as salty or sweet
  • It takes more than 25 steps on the Steps to Eating Hierarchy to add a new food to a problem feeder’s food repertoire

The Sensory-Oral-Sequential Approach to Feeding (SOS) Treatment Plan

Whether your child falls into the picky eater category or the problem feeder category, the treatment options are the same. The intervention approach preferred by pediatric therapists is called the Sensory-Oral-Sequential Approach to Feeding (SOS). The abovementioned Steps to Eating Hierarchy is the basis of SOS.

If you are concerned with your child’s speech or language development, please contact Chicago Speech Therapy by calling 312-399-0370 or by clicking on the “Contact Karen” button on the upper right section of this page.

Karen George is a Chicago speech-language pathologist. The practice she founded, Chicago Speech Therapy, LLC, provides in-home pediatric speech therapy in Chicago and surrounding suburbs. Karen and her team of Chicago speech therapists have a reputation for ultra-effective speech therapy and work with a variety of speech disorders. Karen is the author of several books such as A Parent’s Guide to Speech and Language Milestones, A Parent’s Guide to Articulation, A Parent’s Guide to Speech Delay, A Parent’s Guide to Stuttering Therapy, and A Parent’s Guide to Pediatric Feeding Therapy. She is often asked to speak and has addressed audiences at top Children’s Hospitals and Northwestern University. Karen is highly referred by many Chicago-area Pediatricians and elite schools.