The Southern Trust has hosted an event to help address feeding challenges with babies and children.
Following the success of last year’s event, around 100 parents, carers and health professionals attended last week to mark the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists Swallowing Awareness Day and Dietetics National Nutrition and Hydration Week.
Around 25% to 45% of typically developing children can have feeding difficulties, but they are more common in children with a disability and in babies born prematurely.
Minor issues can include weaning and fussy habits although there are more serious challenges that can result from underlying medical or structural problems like reflux, allergies, cleft palate and swallowing difficulties.
The Trust’s Specialist Paediatric Interdisciplinary Feeding Team presented at the event .
Workshops were also hosted by Emma Mc Cartney, Regional Cleft Nurse Specialist and Fionnuala McKerr, Specialist Speech and Language Therapist for the Southern Trust.
Elaine Tosh, mother of 2 ½ year old Ethan, shared her own very personal story of their family’s journey and experience of dealing with feeding issues on a day-to-day basis.
The event aimed to help raise awareness amongst other professionals of the specialist feeding support and advice available for families within the Trust.
Staff were on hand with advice throughout the day and there were information stands on Breast Feeding, Oral Health Promotion, Occupational Therapy and Physiotherapy.
Dr Sarinda Millar, Consultant Paediatrician who oversees the Interdisciplinary Feeding Clinic for the Southern Trust said: “Good nutrition is so important for growth and development and giving your baby the best start in life.
“So it is understandable that many parents can find it stressful if their child has feeding challenges.
“We hope that parents and carers find today reassuring to learn that they are not alone and to know that there is help and support available to overcome the challenges to ensure that their child can get the nourishment they need.”
Parents or carers worried about their child’s feeding should speak to their Health Visitor or GP in the first instance who can then refer them to the Paediatric Interdisciplinary Feeding Team if it is deemed necessary.
Children attending the Child Development Clinic, a Special School or Learning Support Centre can receive support from the professionals based in these teams.
To find out more about Swallowing Awareness Day go to https://www.rcslt.org/