Neonatal and Infant Feeder Program
The Neonatal and Infant Feeder Program is designed to improve an infant’s quality of life. The program’s emphasis is placed on parent and caregiver education and the development of personalized feeding management strategies.
Teaching medically fragile newborns to meet nutritional needs through oral intake is fundamental for a lifetime of positive eating experiences. Developing appropriate pathways to feeding skills early on is important to maximize potential for oral feeding development. The ultimate goal of our Neonatal and Infant Feeder Program is to safely meet each infant’s feeding potential, while working to reduce caregiver stress and anxiety, in order to produce long-term pleasurable feeding experiences.
Inpatient Services Include:
- Pre-admission screening by nurse liaison upon referral
- Comprehensive interdisciplinary evaluation upon admission
- Referrals for diagnostic studies as needed which may include: modified barium swallow studies, radiologic motility testing, allergy testing
- A structured feeding program custom-tailored to your child’s needs
- Developmentally-based, infant-driven perspective
- Development of family-centered goals
- Hands-on family and caregiver education and training
- Feeding therapy with staff members who have advanced training and expertise in feeding techniques and strategies
Characteristics of a Feeding Disorder
We treat children with feeding disorders, gastrointestinal issues and congenital anomalies including, but not limited to:
- Failure to thrive
- Cleft lip and/or palate
- Oral and/or pharyngeal dysphagia
- Aversion to food textures
- Food refusal (sensory or behavioral)
- Difficulty advancing to age-appropriate food textures
- Gagging, coughing or choking
- Eosinophilic Esophagitis
- Short gut syndrome/Gastroeschesis
- Gastro-esophageal reflux disorders
- Children who have experienced multiple surgeries resulting in a feeding or swallowing disorder
- Children who have not made adequate progress in outpatient programs
Feeding therapy is coordinated with the patient’s family, referring physician and our inpatient multidisciplinary team. Feeding therapy, during feeding and/or non-feeding times, may focus on some or all of the following:
- Appropriate selection of infant specific bottles and nipples
- Recommendations for nutrition, positioning and use of compensatory strategies to optimize the bottle and/or breastfeeding experience for both the caregiver and infant
- Diet modifications to ensure safety and advancement in textures, volume and/or variety of foods accepted
- Exploring the infant’s sensory preferences for development of strategies to meet sensory needs
- Feeding team comprised of professionals trained in the Beckman Oral Motor Program, Vital Stim and SOS Approach to Feeding
Our Interdisciplinary Team
Pediatrician: Board certified pediatrician with extensive experience in infants and children with special needs and medical complexity. Manages the medical treatment of each pediatric feeding patient, monitors nutritional and hydration status with registered dietician and nurses, and coordinates the work of other professionals on the feeding therapy team.
Pediatric Physiatrist: Board certified in pediatrics and rehabilitation medicine. Works closely with the therapeutic team to ensure optimum therapeutic planning and monitors the patient’s progress toward oral motor and functional goals.
Pediatric Rehabilitation Nurse: Focuses on improving quality of life for children and their families during mealtime and non-mealtime routines. Initiates and monitors developmentally based care plans in collaboration with other team members and provides essential education to children and families while reinforcing the education provided by other team members.
Occupational Therapist (OT): Assesses overall sensory needs and fine motor skills and provides appropriate treatment. Evaluates for and provides appropriate adaptive equipment and devices to maximize the overall quality and safety of feeding.
Physical Therapist (PT): Evaluates postural control and overall gross motor planning and function to enhance safe and efficient feeding. Provides appropriate equipment for proper positioning during feeding.
Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP): Evaluates the functionality and safety of feeding and makes recommendations for treatment. Teaches techniques and skills for eating and drinking and assists with the fitting and customizing of adaptive equipment.
Recreational Therapist (RT): Evaluates social and developmental play skills and provides opportunities for children to engage in sensory-based play in order to facilitate social and developmental skills necessary to progress in feeding independence.
Registered Dietician: Evaluates each child’s nutritional status, monitors caloric intake, weight and other nutrition parameters. The registered dietitian confers with the health-care team to develop and implement individualized plans to meet nutritional requirements. Nutrition education is provided to meet special needs as well as promote healthful eating for normal child development.
Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Hospital Pediatric Unit 
2855 Schoenersville Rd.
Bethlehem, PA 18017
Request an Appointment