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Transitioning a Child to Oral Feedings

Jennifer Dahms, MS, CCC-SLP, BCS-S

July 18, 2016

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Question

What factors need to be considered when transitioning a child from tube feeding to oral feedings?

Answer

Certain factors need to be considered when making the decision to transition a child from tube feeding to oral feedings:

Is the child ready? Is the child ready for tube weaning? Do they have interest in food? Do they want to be at the table?

Is the family ready? Can they devote the time and effort that is needed? Some families are ready and some are not. 

Is the child medically stable?  We do not want the child to be vomiting or having other medical issues that need to be addressed.  Make sure there are not any upcoming surgeries, that medications are stable and the child's weight is stable.   Ultimately, we get permission from the physician to try some tube weaning procedures with the child. 

What is the child's social participation with eating? Can the child sit at the table for a full meal? Do they have interested in many different foods? Are they wanting to participate in the full feeding process of cleaning up, making food and grocery shopping?

What is the child’s history of oral eating?  The history of oral eating can be very different from one child to the next. Has the child had some experience with oral feeding and was it positive? Did they have a strong negative history with oral eating? What kinds of foods have they experienced? What taste are they familiar with? What utensils are they experienced with if this is an older child? All of those factors are important to consider.

What has been missed?  Are there any other questions that we need to ask in order to make sure that the child is ready for tube weaning? 

Jennifer Dahms is a pediatric speech therapist in Boise, Idaho.  She received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee.  She has worked in pediatric outpatient clinics and Birth-to-Three programs in both Wisconsin and Idaho and currently has her own private practice, Valley Pediatric Feeding, LLC. 


jennifer dahms

Jennifer Dahms, MS, CCC-SLP, BCS-S

Jennifer Dahms is a pediatric speech therapist in Boise, Idaho.  She received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee.  She has worked in pediatric outpatient clinics and Birth-to-Three programs in both Wisconsin and Idaho and currently has her own private practice, Valley Pediatric Feeding, LLC.  Jennifer has dedicated her continuing education and professional focus on pediatric dysphagia and has presented at state and regional conferences, as well as numerous times with speechpathology.com.  She has received ASHA’s ACE award in 2010, 2011, and 2013 and 2015.  Jennifer earned the Board Certified Specialist in Swallowing and Swallowing Disorders distinction in August 2011.


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