Speech-language pathologists at UC Davis Health specialize in helping infants and children who have difficulty eating and drinking through  comprehensive feeding and swallowing assessments and interventions inpatient, in our outpatient clinic, and in our outpatient multidisciplinary developmental feeding clinic. Our speech therapists are certified by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) and have specialized training in pediatric feeding and swallowing disorders.

Our program’s goal is to maximize feeding and swallowing skills and improve each child's well-being through treatment, education, training, and parental support. Treatment plans take into account structural, physiological, motor, sensory, behavioral, nutritional and underlying medical conditions related to your child's feeding and swallowing problems as well as the the family/child's experience of mealtimes. Safe and efficient feeding and swallowing skills are important to allow infants and children to meet their nutritional requirements as they grow; it is also an important social activity.

The terms feeding disorders or feeding difficulties are frequently used to refer to infants and children who have problems with eating enough and/or an appropriate variety of foods, while swallowing disorders are used to refer to difficulty infants or children may have difficulty protecting their airway and swallowing safely, placing them at risk for aspiration.

Our speech pathologists work with patients and their families to identify your child’s current needs in the areas of feeding and swallowing to promote safe and developmentally appropriate feeding skills while building variety and volume

We address a wide range of feeding concerns, from infancy through adolescence, including:

  • Difficulty with breast or bottle feeding (trouble coordinating sucking, swallowing and breathing)
  • Coughing, choking, and/or throwing up with feeds
  • Looking uncomfortable with feedings
  • Feeding aversion
  • Oral motor delays
  • Sensory challenges impacting mealtimes and oral intake
  • Feeding difficulties as a result of medical challenges (neurological, cardiac, pulmonary)
  • Supporting for children who have neurological impairments and developmental delays that hinder oral feeding
  • Failure to thrive (FTT) — low rate of increase in weight as a result or poor food and liquid intake
  • Gastroesophageal Reflux (GER) — when stomach contents flow back up into the food pipe (esophagus), impacting children's’ desire to eat
  • Children working on oral feeding skills while they have gastrostomy tube/nasogastric tube feeding
  • Structural abnormalities of the mouth and throat that affect eating
  • Infants and children who are at high risk for aspiration
  • Maladaptive mealtime behaviors
  • Prolonged meal time (greater than 30 minutes)
  • Restricted variety and volume of food and drink intake
  • Poor interest in eating and drinking
  • Extreme pickiness and food refusal( limit the types of food and liquid that they are willing to eat based on consistency, texture, color, shape, size, etc)
  • Trouble chewing, swallowing food and/or transitioning to foods of different textures 

During our assessment, our speech pathologists may recommend a formal evaluation of swallow or, a Videofluoroscopic Swallow Study (VFSS), to see the anatomy and physiology of your infant/child's swallow and inform recommendations and intervention.