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Feeding Clinic

The IWK Feeding Clinic helps by providing evidence-based assistance to children and youth exhibiting significant feeding difficulties or concerns. We provide intervention and consultation for both outpatients and inpatients to children and youth from across the Maritime Provinces. 

How we help

The Feeding Clinic accepts referrals for children who have feeding difficulties or concerns such as food refusal behaviour, difficulty transitioning to textures, feeding safety (aspiration concerns), severely restricted diet, or difficulty transitioning from tube feeds. Clinic members see referrals independently or together, if needed. Some families are requested to complete questionnaires before an appointment is scheduled. Of note, we do not have a Physician or Dietitian as part of the Feeding Clinic. If seeking services from a Dietitian, look at the Helpful Links section for how to find a Dietitian. You can also find handouts developed by IWK Nutrition 

What to expect

You’ll be notified of your child’s appointment by mail and/or a phone call. Please complete any forms sent to you.  

To fully prepare for your appointment, please bring the following items with you:

  • Your child’s health card
  • Your appointment letter
  • Completed forms (if you were sent forms to be completed)
  • Some families are asked to bring food/drink with them. If this is required, instructions will be included in your appointment letter.
  • Some families are asked to bring feeding equipment, bottles, spoons, etc. If this is required, instructions will be included in your appointment letter.

When you arrive you’ll be registered at the registration desk on the fourth floor of the Link Building. There may be a short wait time—the waiting room has a TV, but no toys, so bring your own if you’d like some on hand. 

You’ll meet one or a combination of team members depending on your child’s needs. Possible assessments include assessment of oral motor function and structure, and assessment of safe swallowing. If your physician has requested an assessment of swallowing safety your child may complete a test done in the x-ray department, which is called a Videofluoroscopic Swallow Study. During your visit there will likely be an assessment and treatment of feeding behaviours, often including teaching new skills to both child and parent. We will sometimes watch parents feed their child, or work directly with the child. Your child’s weight and length will be taken.  

The feeding clinic space is equipped with a high chair, microwave, and sink. We have utensils and dishes, as well as bibs. Parents are often asked to bring their own food. After the assessment is completed, the Feeding Team members will meet briefly to develop a possible treatment approach. They will then discuss the approach with families, to find a plan that will work best for them. A plan for follow up, if needed, will also be discussed.

Who you’ll meet

Depending on the needs of the child, families will meet with either our whole team or an individual team member. Other health professionals are sometimes invited to join the appointment as well (e.g., Dietitian, Occupational Therapist). 

Dr. Jamesie Coolican is the Psychologist in the Feeding Clinic. She has a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology and specialized knowledge about children’s behaviour, learning, and feeding. A PhD student in Clinical Psychology or a Pre-doctoral Resident in Clinical Psychology, working under the supervision of Dr. Coolican, may also participate in your appointment. Please contact the clinic in advance of your appointment if you have any questions or concerns about having a student or resident participate in your appointment.

Speech-Language Pathologist
Laura Cunningham, S-LP, has a Masters degree and has been working with children who have feeding problems since 1999.  She assesses oral motor feeding skills and makes recommendations to improve feeding safety and efficiency. Laura conducts videofluoroscopic swallow studies with Radiologists and Radiological technicians in the X-Ray Department when there are concerns about food and/or drink entering the airway. 

Feeding Specialist/Clinic Coordinator

Allison Field, M.A. ABA, has been a behaviour therapist since 2018 working with preschool and school age children with behavioural challenges. She works with families to develop strategies to reduce behavioural challenges around mealtimes and teach children feeding skills. 

Administrative Support
Mary Lynn Lalonde is the Administrative Assistant for the Feeding Clinic. She will arrange your appointment time and may be able to answer any questions that you have in advance of your appointment. Please contact Ms. Lalonde if you need to change or cancel your appointment. 

Accessing this Clinic, Program or Service

Link Building - IWK Health Centre

The Feeding Clinic is located on the 4th floor of the IWK Link Building. Take the Green Elevators (Link Building) up to the 4th floor. The registration desk and waiting room are located close to the elevators. 

5850/5980 University Avenue
Halifax, Nova Scotia