Feeding, swallowing and nutrition conditions

At Children's Hospital of Wisconsin, we specialize in the full range of pediatric feeding, swallowing and nutrition problems. Our comprehensive, team-based approach puts your family's needs first.

There are a number of reasons your child may have trouble eating. These include, but are not limited to: 

  • Problems with the mouth and throat 
  • Nerve and muscle control 
  • Age or developmental level 
  • Positive/negative feeding experiences 
  • Medical problems

These and other factors can be indicators of the following conditions that are commonly treated at Children's.

Behavior-related feeding issues

About behavior-related feeding issues

Some children resist eating by disrupting mealtimes and refusing to sit at the table, throwing food, stealing food, crying and/or screaming. If this is the case with your child, a behavior related feeding issue may be the problem.

Behavior-related feeding treatment at Children’s

Behavioral issues around food can sometimes be part of another feeding problem. Children’s works with you and your family to assess your child’s eating habits. Our team may give your child a physical examination and run tests to rule out other health problems. If your child's issues are behavior-related, we work with you and your family to build a treatment plan that can include counseling and dietitian services.

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Failure to gain weight and weight loss

About failure to gain weight and weight loss

Many children who have feeding problems have a hard time gaining weight because they are not getting the nutrition they need to grow healthy and strong.

Failure to gain weight and weight loss care at Children’s

If your child is losing weight or not meeting growth expectations, our team checks for all possible causes, from physical to sensory to behavioral feeding issues. It is important for us go over your child's medical history and understand your family's eating habits. Then we work with you and your family to help your child thrive.

Feeding disorders

About feeding disorders

There are many types of feeding disorders, including chewing and swallowing disorders, which can lead to choking. It is also possible that your child suffers from more than one disorder at a time. A feeding disorder may also be a symptom of another medical condition.

Feeding disorder care at Children’s

As our team tests your child for a specific feeding issue, we also consider other possible problems in order to rule them out. To make this process as thorough as possible, we might refer your child to another specialist. Our goal is to cover all the bases and help get your child healthy as soon as possible.

Oral-sensory-motor problems

About oral-sensory-motor problems

If your child avoids one or more food groups, or foods that have similar textures, he or she may have a sensory feeding issue. For example, a child may say she dislikes certain foods because they are "too squishy" or "too slimy." It is not the taste of the food that bothers the child, but the texture. Your child may also be bothered by the way a food smells or feels to the touch.

Swallowing disorders

About swallowing disorders

Children who have trouble swallowing are at risk of choking or inhaling liquids. To swallow, your child’s tongue, mouth, and throat muscles make over a dozen different movements. Your child may have trouble completing one or more of these for a variety of reasons.

Swallowing disorder care at Children’s

If your child has trouble swallowing, our team looks into his or her medical history and performs a thorough physical exam to determine the root cause. Your child may need to work with one of our skilled speech-language specialists to determine which muscles in his or her mouth and throat aren't working properly.