Encouragement Feeding Program

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The Encouragement Feeding Program helps wean children from feeding tubes and transition to normal, age-appropriate eating habits. Our two-week program requires the participation of parents or caregivers, who are shown how to overcome a child’s avoidance or resistance to eating.

For children with deformities of the oral structures (lips, tongue, palate or jaw) or those who have received nourishment through a feeding tube for an extended period of time, learning to eat normally can be an unpleasant experience. It can be difficult to adjust to the taste and textures of different foods. It may also be hard for children to learn to regulate their hunger as tube-feeding schedules don't mimic typical feeding schedules. That's where our program can help.

Benefits of Intensive Therapy Programs

Advantages of outpatient intensive therapy programs like the Encouragement Feeding Program, include:

  • Weekly appointments to meet family needs 
  • One-on-one personalized attention from rehabilitation specialists from the UVA Child Development and Rehabilitation Center
  • Specific training and repetition of skills to reinforce your child's ability to perform specific tasks
  • Practice of functional skills in therapy and at home 
  • Family training as active members of your child's care team

Is Your Child a Candidate?

Admission requirements for your child include:

  • No medical complications that interfere with oral feeding
  • No symptoms of respiratory distress
  • Adequate weight to allow for small weight loss
  • Tolerance of tube feedings without spitting up 
  • Tolerance of four ounces of feeding over 20 minutes without spitting up 
  • A cognitive level that is almost age appropriate
  • Normal or slightly delayed developmental profile
  • No oral motor disorders
  • The ability to swallow spontaneously

Parents must submit medical records and a video of your child eating and talking for consideration.