The Penn State Children’s Hospital Approach to the Feeding Program
Food is nourishment for your child's body, and we want to help your child thrive. Our experts come from different specialties and work together to help children will all kinds of feeding problems live healthier, happier lives.
Full Range of Feeding Program Services
Our Feeding Program offers comprehensive care for children from birth to age 18, including:
Feeding evaluation clinics – our team performs tests and works with your family to create a care plan that’s right for your child’s challenges. We offer clinics with experts from several pediatric specialties related to feeding problems, such as pediatric gastroenterology (GI), behavioral psychology, nutrition and speech pathology.
Outpatient services – our staff provides outpatient treatment for feeding problems, including food refusal, food selectivity, choking or swallowing phobias, problems with chewing or swallowing, tube feeding management, transitioning to solid foods and insufficient weight gain. We also help with medication adherence such as teaching pill swallowing.
Intensive day treatment program – most children take part in five to 10 feeding sessions per day, from 8:30 or 9 a.m. until 4:30 or 5 p.m. All feeding therapy sessions are conducted by one of our feeding therapists or by the child’s caregiver if it’s a training session.
A Wide Range of Specialists
Our Feeding Program has many experts on staff. Depending on the care your child needs, the care team may include:
Penn State Children’s Hospital's Feeding Program provides care for:
Choking phobias (fears)
Problems with weight gain
Transitioning to solid foods
Tube feeding management
Do I need to get a referral?
Depending upon your insurance company, you may or may not need a referral. Some insurance companies also require preauthorization (that means you must be approved before your visit to be covered). Please call your insurance company to find out what steps to take.
Who will my child see at the first visit?
That depends on your child. We use the information caregivers share ahead of time help us determine which providers will be at your first appointment.
What do I bring to the visit and how long is it?
Clinic visits last from one to one and half hours in most cases. We usually try to watch your child eat during the visit, so please bring food to the visit.
How long is the average stay at the Intensive Day Treatment Program?
t depends on the feeding problem and your child’s progress. The average stay is about 3 to 5 weeks.
What will I have to provide for the Intensive Day Treatment Program?
We provide all food, formula, feeding supplies, reinforcers and any special equipment needed. Please bring the child’s medicine, diapers (if used) and medical supplies not related to feeding.
What activities are available to the children at the Intensive Day Treatment Program?
We have a large playroom stocked with toys, puzzles, books and other fun things for children.
Are other therapies available to the children at the Intensive Day Treatment Program?
At Intensive Day Treatment Program, our primary focus is on eating. The caregivers can feel free to practice therapy activities outside of meals.
Support groups provide children and their families an opportunity to connect with others in similar situations. Learn more about the support groups offered at Penn State Health Children’s Hospital.
We have an active clinical science research program and frequently seek volunteers to participate in clinical trials. These studies help our scientists improve diagnostic techniques, develop better treatments, and collaborate with other researchers.