Children's Feeding Disorders

Sanford Pediatric Feeding Disorders Program

Sanford Pediatric Feeding Disorders Program in Fargo, ND, is a provider referral based program that offers various levels of care for children from birth through age 12, across all levels of developmental abilities.

Levels of care include intensive outpatient and partial hospitalization:

  • Outpatient: Our behavioral outpatient program is the only outpatient feeding program in the Fargo area and is designed for children with mild to moderate feeding difficulties. Treatments are tailored to the child's needs and focus on providing parents with the skills necessary to help their child be successful in the home.
  • Partial Hospital Program: The partial hospital program is for children with severe feeding disorders. The program includes treatment rooms equipped with the technology for caregivers to observe staff and children during feeding sessions. This allows our caregivers to be fully involved in treatment throughout all phases of the program. The program includes a playroom as well as a nap area.

Children served in the feeding disorder programs may have complicated medical histories, neurodevelopmental disabilities, psychological disorders or disruptive mealtime behaviors.

We commonly treat children with conditions including:

  • Failure to thrive
  • Gastroesophageal reflux
  • Autism
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Atresia (duodenal, esophageal, etc.)
  • Food allergies
  • Dysphasia
  • Motility problems

The Pediatric Feeding Disorders Program at Sanford Health includes treatment rooms equipped with the technology for caregivers to observe staff and children during feeding sessions. This allows our caregivers to stay fully involved in treatment throughout all phases of the program. The program includes playroom and nap areas.

Patients We Treat

Pediatric feeding disorders are a complex set of feeding and swallowing problems that impact the development of age-appropriate feeding behaviors. Children with these difficulties often do not consume enough food or liquid to gain weight and achieve optimal growth.

Children with feeding disorders are not just "picky eaters." They present with longstanding feeding problems, which can include:

  • Disruptive mealtime behaviors
  • Difficulty advancing texture of food
  • Refusal to accept particular food groups
  • Refusal to swallow non-preferred foods
  • Oral motor and sensory problems
  • Total food and liquid refusal
  • Gastrostomy (G-tube) or nasogastric (NG-tube) dependence

Feeding disorders may occur due to a variety of reasons which may be medical, developmental, behavioral or psychological in nature. If left untreated, feeding disorders may likely impact a child's physical and social/emotional development.

Ask your family practice doctor or pediatrician about Sanford Pediatric Feeding Disorders Program if: 

  • You have significant difficulty at mealtime with your child
  • Your child refuses to eat
  • Your child is losing weight or not gaining weight
  • Your child regularly coughs, gags, or vomits prior to, during, or after mealtime
  • Your child is not eating appropriate foods for their age
  • Your child has anxiety or fear related to mealtime, or to new foods

Preparing for Your Visit

New Patient Information

If your child's primary care physician or pediatric subspecialist suspects your child has a feeding disorder, they will refer you for an assessment with our team at Sanford Pediatric Feeding Disorders Program.

Comprehensive Evaluations

Once a formal referral is obtained and relevant medical records are reviewed, we will contact you by telephone to conduct a brief interview. Following this interview, a comprehensive evaluation will be scheduled with our assessment team.

The assessment will determine what level of treatment is necessary and appropriate for your child. If your child is recommended to participate in either the partial-hospitalization feeding program or intensive outpatient program, Sanford will begin the authorization process. Once we obtain prior approval from your insurance provider, your child will be scheduled into the program and a packet of information will be sent to you for completion.

Your First Visit

The first visit will consist of additional evaluation with your treatment team. The team will conduct additional assessments to determine the best course of treatment for your child. We will observe meals fed by the parent/caregiver, as well as assess the child's current feeding difficulties. Following the initial assessment, your child will have three to four therapeutic feeding sessions each day.

Individualized treatment plans will be designed based on the results of the evaluation. Our treatment plans are based on objective data we collect, scientific principles of behavior analysis, team and caregiver input, and evidence-based treatments for feeding disorders.

We will regularly assess outcomes through the course of the admission. Once a treatment plan has been developed and your child begins to make progress toward treatment goals, parent/caregiver training will occur. This training is key to the success of Sanford's program, as we strive to help your child develop feeding behaviors that can be maintained in home and community environments.

Follow-Up Care

Follow-up appointments will be scheduled at the clinic approximately two weeks after completing Sanford's partial-hospitalization program. During the follow-up appointment our staff will conduct a meal with your child to evaluate the effects of treatment and success. Recommendations for continued follow-up will occur based on the results of this visit.

(701) 417-5399

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