When Toddlers Won’t Eat: Cardinal Hill’s SOS Program Helps Children Broaden Appetites

Are mealtimes a disaster in your home? Do your children refuse to eat most of the food you prepare?

Do you feel like a short order cook?

You are not alone. But how do you know when to seek professional help?

When young children don’t eat a healthy variety of foods, parents naturally become concerned about the health and nutrition of their kids.

Eating issues are often viewed as a behavior problem that parents try to fix with discipline, usually unsuccessfully.

First, it must be determined how the child “learned not to eat.”

A comprehensive evaluation at Cardinal Hill Rehabilitation Hospital’s Pediatric Eating and Swallowing Clinic can help address these concerns.

The evaluation includes speech language pathologists, occupational therapists and dieticians to determine if a child requires professional intervention for eating.

Oral motor skills, sensory processing skills and nutritional intake are among the many areas assessed.

Therapeutic recom-mendations are given to the family, and the overall goal is to create an environment that reinforces normal, healthy eating patterns.
Treatment strategies depend on each child’s needs.

One strategy that pediatric therapists at Cardinal Hill are successfully using is called S.O.S. – Sequential Oral Sensory.

SOS was developed by Dr. Kay Toomey, a pediatric psychologist.

That’s right – a psychologist who can understand how stressful it can be for families with children who refuse to eat many foods.

Toomey has delineated specific steps in learning how to eat each new food, specific routines families should implement at home, as well as specific strategies to help children appropriately control their emotions when presented with new foods.

Toomey found that children learn to eat best from other children.

Cardinal Hill has organized SOS food groups for children of similar ages, using a consistent routine of preparatory activities and food presentation to encourage improved eating.

Info: (859) 367-7125 or visit www.cardinalhill.org.