Feeding Therapy


Get started with a no-cost, over-the-phone consultation with a STAR Institute therapist by completing the Child Intake Form / Adult Intake Form or contact us at 303-221-7827.

Be sure to check out our Fall Food and Cooking Clubs for fun ways to engage with foods and eating with peers, for ages 3-17. 


For questions or additional information contact our Treatment Center at treatment@sensoryhealth.org or by calling us at 303-221-7827. Telehealth treatment option is available for all of our services, please contact us for more information.

Having a baby, child, or adolescent who does not feed or eat well is a worrisome, frustrating, confusing and at times, medically concerning problem. We at The Feeding Clinic at STAR Institute understand how hard it is to live with a child who doesn’t eat well. We specialize in assessing and treating all of the reasons why infants and children won’t eat. Our focus is on helping you as Parents teach your child to eat a wide variety of nutritious foods in order to support their best growth. 

The Feeding Clinic at STAR Institute uses the SOS Approach to Feeding program, a nationally and internationally recognized approach for assessing and treating children with feeding difficulties. Dr. Kay Toomey, who developed the SOS Approach to Feeding, is a clinical consultant and supervisor for The Feeding Clinic at STAR Institute

How to Know if Your Child Has a Feeding Problem:

Many times, we as parents know that our baby, child, or adolescent is struggling to eat. However, we oftentimes hear the message that we should wait until our children are older because “all kids are picky”, and “all kids outgrow their pickiness”.  In reality, neither of these statements are true. The research shows that about 20% of all children will struggle with some type of feeding challenge at one point or another from Birth to 5/7 years of age. The research also shows that only about ½ of these children will completely “outgrow” their feeding difficulties. If you already know your infant, child or adolescent needs an assessment, click here to complete the child intake form.

If you are not sure if your infant or child needs to be seen at The Feeding Clinic at STAR Institute, download one or both of the following checklists and circle the issues your child has. If you circle 3 or more Problem Feeder challenges or Red Flags on either flyer, your infant/child/adolescent may benefit from an assessment of their feeding/eating issues.

Free Downloads:    

Picky Eaters Versus Problem Feeders

Feeding Red Flags

Infant Feeding Development & Red Flags

Top 10 Myths of Mealtime in America


Figuring out why a child isn’t eating or growing well is a bit like putting together the pieces of a very complicated puzzle.  Because there are actually 7 different systems humans use when eating and feeding, we need to begin with an assessment that looks at your child as a whole person and not just their mouth or their gut or their behavior. We use a Multidisciplinary/Transdisciplinary Evaluation Team to make sure we are not missing a piece of the puzzle. Our Team is made up of a Developmental Pediatrician, a Dietitian, a Pediatric/Behavioral Psychologist, an Occupational Therapist, and a Speech Pathologist. We are all committed to helping you and your child identify what is interfering with your child’s eating and how to best improve their growth and interactions with food.

Assessment Process:

Child is sitting at the table with a long piece of celery in her mouth with the end touching the table. There are candy pieces and veggie straws on the table around her. A therapist is sitting next to her with a piece of celery in her mouthSTEP 1 = arrange for an Intake Phone Call with one of the STAR Institute team members by calling directly at 303-221-7827 and asking for a Feeding Intake OR complete an Intake request form. One of the STAR Institute staff will call you to schedule your one hour, free Intake Phone Call. 

STEP 2 = during your Intake Phone Call, you and the STAR Institute team member will discuss the type of evaluation that will be best for your child and your family.

STEP 3 = you will be sent history forms, rights, and release forms to complete prior to your child’s assessment day.

Feeding Assessment Options at STAR Institute

1.  A Whole Team Feeding Assessment begins with all 5 members of the Team spending two hours with you and your child, watching a meal, and working with you both in our gym. This time is used to look at all the physical and developmental reasons for why your child may not be feeding, eating, or growing well. 

The assessment time is then followed by a three-hour Feedback session with just parents and one of our Team Members. This is an opportunity to talk about in detail, the Team’s findings and recommendations for treatment and to tailor them to you and your child’s needs.

2.  A Mini Evaluation consists of two hours of assessment time with 2 members of the evaluation team. The evaluation includes 1 hour of face-to-face feeding and gym time, a 30-minute write-up and a 30-minute discussion with parents outlining the major findings and next steps.

Treatment Options:

Feeding Therapy at The Feeding Clinic at STAR Institute is referred to as coming to “Food School.” The Feeding Therapists are Food School Teachers and our job is to help infants and children learn how to eat better. But it is not just children who are in Food School. Parents in our program are an active part of every Food School Meal/Session. 

The SOS Approach to Feeding is a Play-Based program that teaches children to eat at a pace that respects their readiness to progress through learning the 32 different steps involved in the task of eating. We teach the children the skills they need in order to eat a wide variety of food types and textures using the natural, social reinforcement of playing with the food and interacting with adults.  

For infants and toddlers, the SOS Approach to Feeding also uses developmental strategies and social engagement with parents to help the baby eat and grow better.

Toddler is sitting in a highchair feeding himself with a spoon and has food on his face around his mouthIndividual Feeding Therapy 

For Children 12 months and older: you and your child will have a Therapy Meal with your Food School teacher. Your child’s Feeding Therapist will choose and prepare foods, plates, bottles, cups, utensils, etc. that will best help your child reach their eating goals. 

For Babies: you and your Therapist will feed your child together. The Therapist will help with any breast or bottle feeding concerns, as well as the introduction of spoon-feeding and table foods. 

Group Feeding Therapy  

4-6 children (ages 18 months and older) have a Therapy Meal together in our kitchen while all of the parents and the Team psychologist watch from behind a one-way mirror. Parents participate directly during the beginning of the therapy session by helping guide their child through a sensory play routine. Once behind the one-way mirror, Parents are taught about how to best help their child eat while observing the Feeding Therapists working with their child.

Food and Cooking Clubs

Cooking and other fun food activities can be a wonderful opportunity to learn about new foods in an engaging environment while spending time with parents and/or peers. Often when children have the opportunity to learn and cook their own foods, it can make it feel a little less scary to interact with and try them too! Our food and cooking clubs encourage socialization between peers and will support those who may have feeding or sensory challenges. Children of all ability levels are encouraged to join us as we have fun together in the kitchen! 


Explanation of the SOS Approach to Feeding:

The SOS Approach to Feeding program used at The Feeding Clinic at STAR Institute is a trans-disciplinary program for assessing and treating children with feeding and weight/growth difficulties. The program uses principles and practices from multiple disciplines including psychology, pediatrics, occupational therapy, dietetics, and speech-language pathology.  The approach combines sensory, motor, oral, behavioral/learning, medical, and nutritional factors and approaches in order to fully evaluate and manage children with feeding/growth problems. The approach is grounded philosophically in the stages and skills of feeding/eating found in typically developing children.

The theory and methods used at The Feeding Clinic at STAR Institute have been developed by Dr. Kay Toomey based on over 30 years of work with children who have difficulty with feeding and eating. The program, called the SOS (Sequential-Oral-Sensory) Approach to Feeding, is taught by Dr. Toomey and her team worldwide.