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Eating and swallowing difficulties

Child being fed

Sheffield Children’s offers a service to help children who have eating, drinking and swallowing difficulties. Our Speech and Language therapists who specialise in supporting families with eating, drinking and swallowing are based within the early years, schools and special schools teams. There is also a team of therapists who see children when they are in hospital.

Who does the speech and language therapy feeding and swallowing team see?

  • Children from birth to 18
  • Children who have complex needs which affect their eating and drinking
  • Children who have structural problems which affect their eating and drinking
  • Children who have developmental difficulties which affect their eating and drinking
  • Children whose medical problems or past medical problems affect their willingness to eat
  • Children who live in Sheffield
  • Children who are inpatients at Sheffield Children’s Hospital who have eating, drinking or swallowing difficulties

What does the speech and language therapy feeding and swallowing team do?

The feeding and swallowing team assess children’s eating and drinking. They advise on the safety of children’s swallowing and provide strategies and advice to help with eating, drinking and swallowing.

Where can children be seen?

Pre-school children are seen in clinic at Sheffield Children’s Hospital and then maybe seen at home if they require longer term support. We also offer parent workshops which are held at Ryegate Children’s Centre.

School age children will be seen in clinic, at home or in school. Children who attend a Specialist Educational Provision will be seen by the Speech and Language Therapist within their school setting.

How often will my child be seen?

If your child has problems with swallowing, the Speech and Language Therapist will stay involved with you until your child is able to eat and drink to the best of their ability.

If your child is able to swallow food but is refusing food or only eats a limited range of foods, you will be invited to attend a clinic appointment and then a workshop.

Videofluoroscopy for swallowing difficulties

We also offer a videofluoroscopy service. This is a moving X-ray of children swallowing. Children will only be referred for this is their consultant thinks this is necessary. The majority of children with eating and drinking difficulties do not need videofluoroscopy.

Here is a video about what happens during a videofluoroscopy study

Inpatient Service

Speech and Language Therapists also see children when they are inpatients at Sheffield Children’s Hospital. The team work predominately with Oncology and Neurorehabilitation but we also see:

  • children who have had a change in their eating, drinking or swallowing
  • children who have not yet had the opportunity to feed by mouth
  • if there is a concern about the safety of a child’s swallowing

Which children are we unable to see?

We are only able to offer a service to children who live in Sheffield (with the exception of videofluoroscopy and inpatients)

We do not see children about weaning advice – please seek advice from your health visitor.

How to refer

We accept referrals from: GPs, health visitors, consultants and other health care professionals.

In order for us to offer children and their families the most appropriate and timely service, professionals should complete all the information on the referral form.

Contact us

Clinical Lead for Paediatric Dysphagia: Jane Shaw

Sheffield Children’s Hospital

0114 271 7452

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