Encompass Blog

When Infant Feeding Doesn’t Go As Planned

May 13, 2022  |  Early Intervention  |  By Kim Kanzler, MA, CCC-SLP

baby with spaghetti on faceOne of the first of many important roles as a parent is feeding your infant.  Feeding can be a calm, beautiful time, but it can also be an uneasy and stressful time as you nourish and build a connection with your baby. Encompass parents Afton and Alex share their experience with their 11-month-old twins who were born 6-weeks premature.

“Right off the bat, our daughter had issues with choking. I didn’t like feeding time. I had severe anxiety about it because it scared me when she choked. When the twins were three months, we learned about the ESIT program and contacted Encompass. Kim became our feeding and speech-language therapist, coming to our home twice a month for therapy. In that time, our son developed reflux and digestion issues and Kim was instrumental in helping him get the care he needed. She came over with little notice to work through the programs and test new ideas. Not only did she help us problem solve and come up with corrective solutions, but she eased my anxiety over the feeding process. I am happy to say I love feeding my babies and they have developed such a love for food. This wouldn’t have been the case without the care and guidance we’ve received through Encompass.”

These stories are not uncommon. Feeding is a complex synchronized dance where the human body orchestrates multiple systems to receive nourishment. Did you know that just one single swallow requires the use of 26 muscles and 6 cranial nerves working in perfect harmony to move food and liquid through the body? When one or more parts of the ensemble are missing, out of sequence, or unclear, infants and children can have difficulty eating and drinking. It is estimated that 25 percent of all children will experience feeding difficulties in infancy or childhood. This number increases significantly for babies that have received NICU or medical support.

When parents witness these difficulties, their natural response is to do something to ensure their infants or toddlers have proper nutrition. They often take steps to extend feeding times (1 hour+), establish dream feedings, and more to get the recommended quantity of food for their child, but can be frustrated when these steps don’t seem to work.

Encompass is here to help. Our infant feeding specialists partner with parents and hold their fears, concerns, and doubts as we shift the focus from the quantity of food to the quality of feeds that supports bonding and attachment through food. We explore feeding time and connection, looking at solutions to support both the parents and their baby to help create a peaceful, calm, and comfortable feeding experience for them and their baby.

We understand that every infant and child is unique. Whether this is your first baby or your fourth baby, we can help you recognize signs and behaviors that might indicate difficulty in feeding:

  • Refusal to eat or drink
  • Limited or no weight gain
  • Limited growth
  • Regularly takes a long time to feed (more than 30 min)
  • Coughs, chokes, or gags during feeds
  • Has a hoarse, raspy, or wet voice during or after feeds
  • Difficulty transitioning to purees or textures

If you are noticing any of these behaviors or have questions regarding infant feeding (0-36 months), Encompass has a team of feeding specialists through our Early Supports for Infant and Toddlers program.  Please reach out to us at 425-888-3347 for a free consultation.

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