The Montreal Children’s Hospital Pediatric Feeding Program provides services to children with feeding disorders, whether or not the child already has a medical diagnosis. However, children with medical diagnoses, poor weight gain, and who are dependent on a feeding tube are given priority.
Children who are referred to the program range in age from a few months to four years of age. The treatment depends on the type of feeding disorders that the child is experiencing. For children who are dependent on a feeding tube, the program staff creates a step-by-step process (a protocol) so that the child can make the transition to oral feeding (eating by mouth). The protocol is tailored to the individual child and family. When needed, the staff call on professionals outside of the Pediatric Feeding Program. As well, the psychologists use psycho-education, and if needed, supportive psychotherapy in the process.
Children with poor weight gain receive nutritional support and are often treated with an appetite stimulant, along with restructuring mealtimes and modeling mealtime interactions. Occupational therapists focus on helping the child build feeding skills and reducing oral hypersensitivities.
Children with disruptive mealtime behaviours are treated with behavioural techniques related to behavioural analysis. The overall goals are to create normal mealtime behaviours within the home setting and reduce hospital visits, resulting in an enhanced quality of life for the children and their families.
The program staff sometimes provide consultation to second-line services in the community when requested.