Readiness for Oral Feeding

Readiness for oral feeding begins with clinical assessment ensuring a safe swallow. Assess the child and parent readiness to begin or increase oral feeding. Work with the child and family to understand their goals and their ability to work with their child and interdisciplinary team throughout the tube weaning process. 

Child Readiness

Readiness is an internal phenomenon and therefore is difficult to objectively define. Parents and caregivers can provide encouragement and opportunities for the child to promote readiness, however, readiness is essentially child-led and directed. Healthcare professionals can assess and support parents to look for, and encourage, cues and signs that the child is interested in food and in eating. Consideration of the child’s medical status including recent airway surgery, bolus and gastric feed tolerance, behaviour and functional skills will determine the starting point for any approach.

Parent Readiness

Using a family-centred approach will ensure the parents have prioritized the need to move towards oral feeding for their child. Healthcare professionals can work with parents to create a plan that allows for a child-led transition to oral feeding and identify potential barriers that may be encountered. It is important to assist parents in their transition from being ‘the tube feeder’ to the provider of food. Exploring child and parent anxiety during this process contributes to successful weaning.