N., mother of daughter A. (19 months) | Los Angeles, CA

Condition : Failure to Thrive

A. was born full-term (on her due date) and delivered naturally, weighing 6 pounds, 5 ounces at birth. I nursed her for 6-7 months and during this time, she seemed to be “tracking” her growth curve, though she was always on the small side, never above the 10th percentile for weight. Her pediatrician never expressed any real concern saying she was just “petite.” By the time we started solids and formula around 6 months, it was apparent that she did not enjoy eating as many other babies do, and she started falling off her growth curve. At her 9 month checkup, I expressed to her pediatrician that we were having to use distractions to feed her, that she didn’t eat much, and that she didn’t seem to be progressing to textures (the only finger foods she ate at this time were puffs and cheerios.) He said to wait until 12 months, as some babies just need more time on purees.

By 12 months, not a lot had changed – we were still feeding A. stage 2 baby food, and using the tv, toys, and books to distract her while only getting her to eat 2-3 ounces of food max per meal. Mealtimes would take anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour. I expressed all of my concerns to her pediatrician at her one-year checkup and although she weighed under 17 pounds at that time (below the 3rd percentile), he again said we could wait until her next check-up. After one month and not seeing any improvement in her eating, I contacted him to see what more could be done. He referred me to an occupational therapist for evaluation, so when A. was 14 months old, we began occupational therapy. Around the same time, I found the Feeding Clinic of Los Angeles just by searching on the internet, but at the time, my husband and I thought going up for the intensive treatment might be too extreme and that it would only be something we would do as a “last resort.” We had a swallow study done on A. and nothing wrong was found. We went through a couple different occupational therapists over the next 3-4 months, but in my opinion, there was little if no improvement with A.’s eating. We would go in for therapy once a week and to me, it seemed like they would just have A. “play” with food. She wasn’t really eating much during the OT sessions and she still wasn’t progressing to anything beyond dried snacks like goldfish or veggie sticks. In the meantime, it was getting harder and harder for me to feed her purees at home. Every meal was a struggle as A. was becoming more resistant to being fed, usually expelling food, packing and/or crying, and yet she could not eat regular finger foods on her own. I was constantly stressed and concerned that she was not eating enough. I was also expecting our second child in a few months and could not imagine


Michelle, mother of James (21 months) | Sacramento, California

Condition : NG Tube Dependent

pediatric_feeding_ng_tubeJames was a 25 week preemie twin who spent the first nine months of his life in the NICU.  With underdeveloped lungs, James struggled to live and his ventilator dependency was the beginning of cause and effect situations.  At two months old James underwent a tracheotomy due to subglottic stenosis, or scarring caused by being intubated for so long. It wasn’t until James was six months old that a bottle was introduced using a Haberman nipple and eight months old before he was able to consume enough volume to stop the supplemental NG feedings.

Because the plan was to reconstruct James’ trachea around his first birthday, it was the opinion of all (Drs., OT’s, PT’s, SLT’s) to not push him to eat solids until then; if he refused we would stop.  At sixteen months, the doctors successfully reconstructed his trachea, the stint (inserted during surgery) was removed four weeks later, and after four consecutive weekly visits back to the operating room for subsequent scar revisions (removal), James was decannulated on December 11, 2007.

What was a momentous occasion was overshadowed by the fact that James left the hospital after the initial reconstruction refusing to eat anything and sporting an NG tube.  No one anticipated his initial refusal to eat, not even a bottle, would develop into classic feeding aversion and NG tube dependency.  Then the NG tube complications started.  We were told he must have a sensitive stomach, as we had to watch the life drain out of him with each feeding as he violently gagged, turned colors and eventually vomited during his bolus feeds.

It was becoming apparent that James had forgotten the behavior of eating by mouth. We would be “starting from scratch” and even with weekly OT and SLT visits it was going to take a long time. The NG tube had been in for three months already and we found ourselves being referred to the GI specialist for discussion of G-tube placement. The date had been set, and the clock was


C. and J., 2-year-old son J. | Houston, Texas

Condition : Failure to Thrive

J. was born full term at 39 weeks via c-section at 7 lbs 13 oz (40% percentile) in July 2010.   From birth, J. both nursed and drank from a bottle.  At approximately 4 months of age, J. began totally refusing the bottle.  Although I continued to nurse him, J. had difficulty gaining weight and eventually fell to the 3rd-5th percentile on the Center for Disease Control growth curve.  My pediatrician was unconcerned with the drop in percentile rankings on the growth curve since my two older daughters were petite, my pediatrician assumed that my son was just dropping in the percentile rankings towards his natural and inherited growth curve.  Even so, I requested to start J. on rice cereal with the hopes that I would be able to put weight on him.  From the beginning, feedings of solid foods was difficult and time consuming, with more food ending up on the bib and on the floor than in his mouth after 1 to 2 hour feeding sessions.

By the time my son was 9 months old in April 2011, we had resorted to using videos and playing with assorted toys in order to distract him enough to take a few bites.  Additionally, he had developed habits during feedings that made mealtimes extremely stressful, ranging from crying, head turning, and blocking the spoon with his hands and tongue to even gagging and expelling.  At my son’s 9 month checkup, I again expressed my concerns to my pediatrician who said not to be overly worried with feedings as J. would eat when he was hungry.  My pediatrician advised me to limit his feeding times to 30 minutes, which was an impossibility if I had any hope of getting my son to eat a meaningful amount of food.

In September 2011, after more than a year of dealing with severe food refusal, I obtained a swallow study at Texas Children’s Hospital at the recommendation of my pediatrician, which showed no problems.  After the swallow study, J. was referred to a speech pathologist for a feeding evaluation.  The speech pathologist felt like J. may benefit from feeding therapy and recommended that we consult a gastroenterology specialist for potential motility issues prior to starting any therapy.  Despite the waitlist for the feeding therapy at TCH being 3-6 months long, I put J.’s name on the waitlist for therapy while I awaited our appointment with the GI specialist.   In December 2011, I was finally able to consult a GI specialist at TCH who ordered a stomach emptying scan.  J. was diagnosed with delayed gastric emptying and was prescribed low dose Eryped to take 3 times daily.

I hated the idea of giving J. long term antibiotics, but the medicine appeared to be helping to increase his volumes of food at least initially.  In January 2012, after months of waiting to begin feeding therapy at TCH, I was informed that the speech pathologist would be on medical leave indefinitely and that I should seek feeding therapy with the occupational therapy department of TCH.  Of course, this would require another expensive consultation that would be scheduled months down the road.  Out of desperation, we went ahead and made an appointment with the OT department at TCH and again, we waited.  Meanwhile, we continued to give J. the prescribed dosage of Eryped.  After 3-4 months of taking the Eryped and waiting for our next appointment with TCH, we slowly saw J.’s feeding deteriorate again and we struggled to get J. to take enough calories to gain weight appropriately.

During this time, because TCH’s wait list for feeding therapy was so long, we got a referral to a private speech therapist who claimed that she could do feeding therapy in conjunction with speech therapy.  We tried using the private speech therapist for a period of 5 weeks with no results.  Finally, in April 2012, we took J. for his feeding evaluation with the OT department at TCH.  The consultation resulted in a treatment plan that included once weekly visits for a period of 12 months.  Although we tried the OT, after three visits, the OT was unable to get J. to take a single bite of food and we could see that the therapy would be unsuccessful.

Because J.’s feedings seemed to be trending in the wrong direction, with feeding times increasing again to close to an hour and half and which now included packing and vomiting on top of all the other behaviors he was exhibiting, I began to worry that should the trend continue, I would no longer be able to feed J. by mouth.  It was at this time that I began my search for alternative solutions that included intensive feeding therapy programs.

I visited with Kennedy Krieger Institute, who told me that there would be a 6 month wait period after the initial in-person consultation.  The program would require us to be in Baltimore for a period of 10-12 weeks, for which I was unable to commit.  I also visited with Our Children’s House at Baylor in Dallas, who also had a 6 month wait list for new patients and an 8-10 week feeding program.  After conducting some independent due diligence on Our Children’s House, I became concerned that their protocol and stance on tube placement did not line up with my goals or desired outcomes.

I continued to research programs which could help J., and in May 2012, I found the Feeding Clinic of Los Angeles another website.  The website described my son’s problems to a tee and gave me a spark of hope that I would find suitable therapy that I needed for my son.  I called Mr. Ben Zimmerman and I was happily surprised to be able to visit with Mr. Zimmerman directly with regard to all of my questions and concerns.  Mr. Zimmerman provided prompt and detailed answers to all of my questions and requested video footage of my son after verifying through my pediatrician and GI specialist that J. was safe to eat by mouth.  After reviewing the footage, Mr. Zimmerman called and said that J. was a case that he was willing to take and we should come to California in July 2012 for a period of 4-5 weeks.


Helena and Dmitry, parents of a 2.5-year-old | Bay Area, California

Condition : G Tube Dependent

Our son Tim was 26th week micro-preemie, 2lb and 1 oz. weight. He had heavy strider and reflux. Nissen fundoplication surgery improved the situation with reflux and strider and he gained an ability to breathe by himself, without being dependent on machines supplying him with oxygen flow, and shortly after was released home.

Together with Nissen fundoplication, a G-tube was placed into Tim’s stomach (we were not even asked – it was a “package” deal with Nissen fundoplication). However, for the first 4 months we used the tube only for burping him (after a Nissen he could not burp or throw up). Tim was sucking breast milk from the bottle pretty well, was gaining weight and amazed his GI doctor, who almost thought about the G-tube removal.

However, he suddenly stopped taking the bottle. He was refusing it, crying and choking. We tried to feed him while he was asleep (this way he wasn’t protesting as much), but he almost stopped sleeping. We tried anti-reflux medications, but there was no change in his eating pattern, i.e. he still refused the food. Various feeding specialists from NICU and Stanford explained this by the fact that at this age children lose the sucking reflex and start to “think” and “have their own opinion” about taking food, which may turn into a behavioral issue.

For about a year we visited different feeding specialists and tried their suggestions to feed Tim through his mouth (with no real success), checked hypo- and hypersensitivity of his mouth; did additional tests such as checking his upper GI paths, endoscopy and MRI; tried different foods and approaches to make him “interested” in the food. During this time we also tried different approaches in order to increase his oral food intake, but besides his refusal to take a spoon and the loss of weight and his ability to move for a few days, we did not reach any results. He became fully tube-dependent, could not gain weight in any other way, and was diagnosed with failure to thrive.

So we have been feeding him through G-tube 4 to 6 times a day (to provide acceptable amounts of calories) and, watching him lying in our arms suffering from reflux without any ability to throw up (because of the Nissen fundoplication) for at least an hour after each feeding. Feeding specialists explained that his feeling so bad was caused by the fact that feeding through G-tube delivers food to the stomach without “telling” the brain that the food is coming.


Craig, father of Michael (8-years-old) | Bay Area, California

Condition : Picky Eater

Dear Ben:

I want to thank you for the incredible results you were able to achieve with Michael and finally solving his eating problem that no one else could.

As we told you, prior to learning about your clinic we had taken Michael to three other places to try and solve Michaels’ extremely selective eating habits.  We first saw a physician in Palo Alto who believed that Michael was sensitive to foods based on sight, smell, and texture and that this could be related to the very far end of the autism spectrum called Asbergers.  This physician stated that since Michael was performing above grade level at school, was good at athletics, way far above grade level in math, etc. that this further confirmed his finding because medical studies showed that such children with similar eating problems have these same characteristics.  This physician referred us to a specialist in San Francisco who confirmed this finding.  After many discussions and treatment plans with the San Francisco specialist Michael did not improve.

Following this we went to an occupational therapist located in Arizona.  She was so well known that people from all over the world came to see her.  Her finding was the same and we then implemented her approach to no avail, and, of course, at a continuing considerable expense.

We then went to Stanford University and enrolled in their plan.  Stanford also confirmed that Michael was obviously very selective with food because of how he viewed the sight, smell, and texture of it and that he had to be desensitized to this.  They also stated that Michael was not placing food in his mouth correctly where the proper taste buds could in turn produce a positive sensation for food.  We went through their program with no change in Michaels’ eating.

During this time Michael who was now age 8 was continuing to lack adequate nutrition needed for proper mental and physical development.  Our family could not travel because the very few food items that Michael would eat would not necessarily be available.  Michaels’ problem affected the entire family in many different ways and even caused major arguments between me and my wife as to how to deal with this matter.  Finally our new family pediatrician told us about you.

Before we saw you Michael would act like we were killing him if we


B., mother of S. (1-year-old) | London, U.K.

Condition : NG Tube Dependent

S. is a premature baby, born at 8 months. He was taking bottle for the first four months of his life and then started refuse the bottle. It progressively got worse over a two week period and then he stopped taking the bottle completely.

NG-Tube_fed_with_vomiting_sm no_ng-tube_1We live in UK and at that point he was admitted to a hospital for an assessment. The doctors in NHS had been proposing gastro oesophageal reflux could be the main contributor for this condition. However, he was not vomiting much beforehand. Investigations point of view he only had blood and urine test to rule out any infections which came back negative.

In the mean time he was started on NG top up feeds. After NG tube was inserted, his oral intake became much worse. Also, he started gagging and vomiting multiple times in a day. It was very difficult and painful for us to watch him gagging and vomiting where he throws up the tube and it took about 10 minutes for the gag to settle down.

After the NG tube was inserted we could only give him 2 oz. feed at a time to prevent him vomiting and we were almost feeding him 24 hours a day. However, even with that it was difficult to establish a reasonable feed. He dropped off from his growth chart and development got delayed.

no_ng-tube_2We were looking for some place in the NHS which specializes in taking children out from the tube feeding. We could not find any hospital in NHS provide such a care even the Great Ormond Street Hospital, one of the biggest children hospital NHS does not have a specialist with successful cases of kids coming out from the tube feeding. Also, we could not find places in the Private health care, UK providing such service. We felt that our Speech and Language therapist in UK and her action plan would not help him to come out from his tube feeding at all.

Our Speech and Language therapist in UK asked us to start him on solids and said he would get better afterwards. It was very difficult to make him take solids as well. We were very disappointed and started to


Mary, Mother of Zach (22-months) with multiple food allergies and reflux | Virginia

Condition : Failure to Thrive

My son Zach is 22 months old. At two months of age he began arching his back and refusing to nurse awake.  Blood appeared in his stool and spit up, and he developed eczema.  He was diagnosed with a dairy allergy and gastroesophageal reflux disease, but despite trying an elimination diet and Zantac he continued to refuse food when awake (both liquids and solids).  His weight gain stalled, dropping from the 50th percentile to below the 5th percentile over the next 6 months, and he was diagnosed with a feeding aversion and failure to thrive.

Subsequent RAST allergy testing revealed that Zach had multiple food allergies, and at one year of age he was put on 100% Neocate hypoallergenic formula.  His reflux medication was also changed to Prevacid, and then to Prilosec to see if that would help. By the time Zach was 18 months old we felt that his allergies and reflux were finally under control, but he still continued to refuse food. His eating was 99.5% from a bottle and mostly while asleep, and his weight remained around the 5th percentile.

We consulted speech/feeding therapists, several GI doctors and a nutritionist, and had numerous tests done (upper GIs, endoscopies, colonoscopy, etc.) to see if we had missed something. Meanwhile, every day we counted each ounce of food he consumed and struggled


Shwetha, mother of a 5-month-old | Bay Area, California

Condition : Failure to Thrive

Our younger son was born full term and was healthy the first couple of months. Starting at 2 months, he slowly developed a refusal to feed, and was diagnosed as having acid reflux. Our pediatrician sent us to a GI, and the GI tried a bunch of medication – zantac, prevacid, erythromycin, et al. and a slew of tests.

After over 2 months of trying various options, we found that he had started to lose significant weight, and had fallen off the chart. The GI was concerned that he was “wasting away”, and was at risk of being declared Failure to Thrive. She wanted to intervene right away by getting a tube in him – and I was in tears right there. What had happened to my healthy little baby? Being very concerned about this approach I begged for time. The GI


Amanda and Matt, parents of Mya (2-years-old) | Indiana

Condition : G Tube Dependent

G-tube_dependence_eliminatedOur daughter Mya was born at 37 weeks by c-section since she was breech. There were no complications with her delivery to speak of. At only a few days old we noticed that Mya did not show a lot of interest in breastfeeding or taking a bottle. Her weight was increasing and her pediatrician did not seem to be worried.

As time went on the resistance to the bottle grew. She would start to cry at the sight of a bottle and even cry when we tried to feed her. We saw a GI doctor and he said she was having silent reflux. Mya was placed on a variety of medication but nothing seemed to help for more than a few days at a time.

We finally were able to be seen at a local Children’s Hospital and found out that Mya was aspirating milk into her lungs. She had a NG tube placed at 4 ½ months of age and got a g-tube at 8 months old. Mya never had vomiting problems prior to her experience with a feeding tube. After she got a tube she would vomit up to 4-5 times a day. We tried everything to help her including medication, using a feeding pump, doing a night drip, spreading out boluses over an hour, etc.

My daughter saw 3 different feeding therapists prior to coming to Feeding Clinic of Los Angeles. She had numerous tests done and everything came back normal. Mya had even passed her swallow study! So basically we had a 19 month old child who had no medical reason why she could not eat or drink but basically just refused to do it. After trying local feeding therapy


Ted and Judy, parents of Alex (4-year-old) | Bay Area, California

Condition : Picky Eater

We never imagined we would be writing a testimonial about a feeding clinic.  But Ben Zimmerman at the Feeding Clinic of Los Angeles has made such a profound difference in the life of our son, Alex that we felt other parents who are experiencing the eating challenges we have faced needed to know there is a place where they can find a solution.

Our son, Alex, is a healthy 4 ½ year old with no medical problems but had a very limited diet of cheerios, yogurt, goldfish and occasionally french fries and bacon.  We had tried everything to get him to change his diet — lots of praise, bribery with toys, begging, offering him only new food as advised by our pediatrician (we caved after our son refused to eat for more than 36 hours), not making issues with food but none of these strategies worked.  He would refuse, adamantly, saying he was “scared” and in a rare moment when he would take a bite of something new, he would gag and cry.  We tried to get help – we read more than half a dozen books on pediatric feeding difficulties, we consulted several pediatricians, we had Alex checked by pediatric GI to make sure there weren’t any stomach/digestion issues and even took him to a child psychologist. None of the strategies worked and none of the specialists could offer a strategy that would address our son’s eating issues.

Frustrated, we searched


Michael and Belinda, parents of Ivy (2-years-old) | Sydney, Australia

Condition : NG Tube Dependent

cp_child_without_gagging_vomiting_or_ng-tube-sm ng-tube_fed_child_with_cp_sm

“No Gastrostomy needed”  …..are the words Belinda and I have longed to hear for the past 18 months.

One of our twin daughters, Ivy, has had a rather challenging start.  Our girls were born at 24 weeks in Westmead Hospital, Sydney and required a huge amount of care for the 1st 3 months of their lives.

Molly left hospital first escaping any complications that often arise in babies the premature.  She is two and half and doing very well.

Ivy however, has had to deal with hydrocephalus, meningitis and an ensuing 8 neuro operations plus laser eye surgery.

Ivy pretty much had an NG tube from 2 months old and this coupled with a severe gag reflex and gastro intestinal reflux has made feeding her a big, big issue.

We were fortunate enough to have a paediatric gastroenterologist who was all for minimal surgical intervention and kept on delaying Ivy’s inevitable gastrostomy.  My wife and I were very reluctant to have Ivy put through the operation for three reasons:

  1. The increased risk of infection to Ivy’s brain via the two v.p. shunts she has
  2. The burden of yet another operation
  3. My wife’s gut feeling that we should avoid this operation entirely. (I have a healthy respect for my wife’s gut feeling).

The Gastrostomy loomed


Debbie, Mother to Andrew (16 months old) | Las Vegas, Nevada

Condition : G Tube Dependent

Hey there Moms!

My name is Debbie. My son Andrew is 16 months old. He was born full term and weighed 8Lbs 12oz, however he was born with congenital heart disease. At 2 days old he had his first open heart surgery to repair his Aortic valve.

At 7 weeks old he was still in the hospital and had not gained any weight. He refused to drink by mouth. Knowing he needed another heart surgery, we knew he needed to grow; therefore the next step was a G-Tube.

At 8 weeks old the g-tube was in place and Andy shut down. He refused everything in his mouth; he would gag, wretch, vomit and could only handle about 60 ccs/hour on a continuous pump for 18 hours a day. Life was tough for him and our family. We made it to 6 months for his second heart surgery; a VSD repair and de-banding of his PA valve. Andy came through the surgery ready for life. He had much more energy.

We thought it was time to feed by mouth again. OT, GI’s and PT were absolutely no help what so ever. They’d say stop feeding him by mouth the second he gags; I would put a spoon to his mouth and he’d gag so the feeding would stop. Their theory didn’t work.

After a 3 month wait we were accepted to St Joseph ‘s in NJ for an intensive feeding program. The first day there Andy ate 4 oz of peaches, so the doctors and behavioral specialists told us to go home and we would have more “FUN” feeding Andy at home. By this time Andy was 1 year old. The next 3 months at home were no “FUN” at all.

Andy shut down, it would take over an hour


Vlada, Mother to Julia (8 months old) | San Francisco, California

Condition : Failure to Thrive

My baby girl who nursed so well in the first month of her life stopped eating when she was 6 weeks old. She could go without eating for up to 11 hours (which is not OK for a 6 weeks old baby). She would not nurse or take a bottle except when asleep. Even when asleep it was a challenge: it would take her 3 hours to finish a 3oz of milk or formula. By the time she finished it was time to feed her again; we were constantly feeding her.

She was diagnosed with reflux and was prescribed Zantac, which helped very little. She was still eating slowly and showing no interest in food. Because she was refusing to nurse or take a bottle for long hours, we started using a dropper or a spoon to feed her. The spillage was high and she would vomit once in a while. We went to see a regular hospital feeding therapist who encourages us to continue distracting her attention by showing her toys or TV. We did not even go for a follow up visit because these methods were not effective. Our daughter’s weight gain slowed and I was extremely scared for our baby’s health and development.

I hoped in vain that she would eat better with solids. It would take us an hour to an hour and a half to feed her one meal. She would hold food in her mouth and swallow only if we gave her a pacifier. She eventually developed a dependency


Amanda, mom of Caitlin (6-months-old) | Bay Area, California

Condition : NG Tube Dependent

As a member of Kaiser Permanente since 1999, I would like to provide feedback regarding the feeding therapy services referred by Kaiser Santa Clara.

In March of this year, our first child, Caitlin, was born with multiple birth defects.  She had two heart defects (ventricular septal defect and coarctation of the aorta) and  tracheoesophageal fistula.  By three months old, all of her defects have been surgically repaired but we were left with the chronic challenge of feeding her.  Caitlin had required an NG feeding tube since birth and at the time when her surgeries were completed, she still only took half of her required calories orally.

In June, Caitlin was referred to the one feeding therapist Kaiser contracted with at that time.  We worked with this therapist from June until August with very little progress.  Each week we would drive a half hour each way (from Santa Clara) to simply sit and discuss what I had tried at home the previous week.  The last twenty minutes would attempt to feed my daughter while the therapist observed and gave feedback.  She mentioned that she prefers to have the parents feed during the session instead of herself.  As soon as my daughter fussed, we would stop and try a new method.  This went on week after week until I realized it was a complete waste of time.


Sara, mother of Ria (11-year-old) | Bay Area, California

Condition : Picky Eater

My daughter Ria has cerebral palsy from birth.  I am her mom Sara, and a scientist by profession.  As a little baby Ria had a lot of oral sensory issues and through the first few years of her life she had a lot of feeding issues, particularly fussy about what and how much she wanted to eat. This gradually went away and she turned out to be someone who enjoys eating her meals. However drinking continued to be a big issue.

Ria almost always refuses to drink and the only thing I can get her to even consider drinking is water. Her teachers at school are always complaining about how little she drinks and how she refuses a drink any time she is asked or offered. Additionally she always showed extreme aversion to cold drinks.

We approached Ben Zimmerman with this dilemma a few months back this year to see if behavioral therapy may be a way to help Ria with this challenge.  Ben was recommended to us by some of my friends who had success with feeding challenges in working with him.

Additionally many of these kids were from the autistic spectrum so I wasn’t sure if Ben would work with a child with CP.


Suyan, mother of Nina (1-year-old) | Miami, Florida

Condition : NG Tube Dependent

My daughter Nina was a full-term baby born at 6 pounds 7 ounces. The feeding was very smooth at the beginning, but it has become difficult since Nina started vomiting a lot at 2 months old. It took at least an hour to give her 5oz milk, and she would throw up almost half of it even under the control of Zantac.

She was referred to a GI specialist when she was 6 months old due to the severe vomiting. Acid reflux and oral aversion were diagnosed then. However, the feeding continued getting worse. She totally refused to take a bottle when she was seven months old. She was not taking solid food, either. She was admitted to the hospital for detailed exams. Although every result came back normal, she was discharged with a NG-tube after the 11-day of hospitalization.

The nightmare had just begun…Nina hated her NG-tube. She tried to pull it out all the time, the tape on her face irritated her baby skin, and the vomiting didn’t stop. I took her to occupational feeding therapy near our home in Florida three times a week. I gave her lots of smiles and praise when she occasionally took a bite. However, for the most of time, she was just turning her head away from the spoon. After she was on the NG-tube for one month, the doctor suggested us to consider a G-tube, which we would like to avoid. I started looking for the information regarding feeding programs. I talked to Mr. Ben Zimmerman at the beginning of December. After three weeks, we were at the Feeding Clinic of Los Angeles.


Helen, Mother of Rebecca | Dublin, Ireland

Condition : Failure to Thrive

Rebecca is 2 years old, she has a rare metabolic disorder (UMPS), which means that she can’t produce enough energy to grow & develop. She has been diagnosed with failure to thrive and developmental delay.

She was born at 2.5 kg (5.5 lbs) and from the start had difficulty feeding, she had recurrent thrush in her mouth and would not suck. She was weaned at 4 months and seemed to enjoy solid foods more than milk but she still did not gain sufficient weight. At 4 months we were told there was something wrong and investigations started. At 6 months Rebecca was placed on an NG tube as her weight was so low. She remained on the NG tube for 7 months, at this stage her doctors wanted to give her a G-tube. Rather than let her go through this we managed to wean her onto drinking from a cup and managed to get her to drink sufficient high formula milk to enable us to get rid of the tube altogether.

Rebecca was finally diagnosed when she was 16 months old and was placed on medication. At this stage we felt it was time to try and resolve her feeding difficulties as she could now get the necessary calories and energy from her food. All the interventions that had given her nutrition had resulted in a complete phobia for eating. She would not open her mouth for food, if we managed to get any food in her mouth she gagged or vomited. To get her to drink sufficient high calorie milk we had to bribe her 8 –10 time a day with books and music. Her weight gain was very poor and we were again being threatened with the g-tube.

We are based in Ireland and had tried all the usual food desensitisation programs. We searched the web but could find nothing in Ireland or Europe, which would actually make Rebecca eat without giving us advice or starving her. Eventually we came across the Feeding Clinic of Los Angeles Web Site and it seemed to offer what we were looking for. We spoke with Ben Zimmerman and with other parents who had been through Ben’s treatment and we were convinced. We took the 11hr flight


Amutha, mother of Shiva (3-years-old) | Austin, Texas

Condition : G Tube Dependent

My name is Amutha. My son Shiva was born premature at 24 weeks. Four months after coming home from NICU he developed severe oral aversion due to infant GERD. We had to put in a g-tube since he had not gained eight in four months.

Over the course of two years we worked with at least 5 different Speech Therapist , an OT , nutritionist and psychologist for his feeding. He did take 4 oz of yogurt with lots of distractions. Whichever way I tried the maximum I could get him eat was 400 cal orally. The maximum he would take both oral and tube feeding combined was 960 cals.

He had a super sensitive gag reflux. He gagged and vomited with almost all the meals. He used to vomit at least once a day even when I was not feeding him orally. We did the overnight feeding. Me and my husband used to co sleep with him everyday in fear of running to ER in the middle of night with his detached g-tube in our hands. That has happened only 4 times in two years and he almost strangled himself once in a while when he was asleep. Why would we not sleep peacefully :). The days went by me feeding him over half an hour, spending another hour with him to making sure  he would not laugh or cry. If not he threw up and the entire process started again. This happened four times a day for his breakfast, lunch, snack and dinner.

When he was 28 months old the developmental pediatrician said he was it risk for becoming mentally retarded. We needed to eliminate his tube feeding and get some time, energy and good sleep so we can concentrate and look at his deficits and work on his overall developments. I knew in my heart my son is not mentally retarded. I knew if he started eating by mouth there is this whole other world waiting for him to explore.

We decided to come to Feeding Clinic of Los Angeles. After working with Ben Zimmerman for a total of 29 days


Eileen, Mother to Daniel (14 months) | Bay Area, California

Condition : Failure to Thrive

We have used the Feeding Clinic of Los Angeles (FCLA) and would love to share our experience with it. First a lot of background on our situation. Our child, Daniel, has oral aversion. In other words, he does not tolerate things in his mouth, be it toys or food. This child will literally starve himself to death given the chance.

At two months old, I found that he would react to nursing as if he had reflux. Feed for a few sucks then yank himself away, arching his whole body away from me, crying, kicking and pushing. Nursing was brutal. We figured out that he fed better when he was too sleepy to fight us. So we would schedule his feedings with his nap time – rock him asleep, and start nursing. At four months old I was excited to start him on solids thinking things would be different. We persevered with solid foods for a good four months until he was 8 months old with no progress at all. Then one morning he was intently watching me eat a piece of toast, he seemed quite interested. So I offered it to him. Daniel licked the toast and a TINY speck (size of a pinhead) of a crumb was on his tongue and he started retching. Immediately I swept it out with my finger and called the pediatrician. He said that that was definitely NOT normal and told me to hold off giving him real solid food for now.

I continued trying the jars. If he was given the fruit jars, he was retch the first few bites, and end up taking most of the stage 2 jars vomiting approximately every other day on them. If he was given a vegetable (peas, carrots, sweet potatoes) or protein jar (beef and vegetable, chicken noodle), he would retch, gag, and vomit at the first bite and empty out the entire contents of his stomach. Given how difficult it was to get the food into him, we simply didn’t bother giving him vegetable or protein jars anymore. He readily took the Yobaby jars at first, then he started retching also, vomiting approximately every other day on those too.

He required A LOT of toys and distractions, feeding at the park, in front of the television, or in the bathtub to take jars or yobaby. He required to be rocked asleep for his milk feedings. Things were quite difficult with a lot of cleaning up of his vomit.

The pediatrician referred us to O.T. specializing in oral issues. We were then referred to GI after about 4-5 sessions with minimal progress. The GI said it was classic oral aversion and there was nothing they would do for us. Daniel even went in for an upper GI study and swallow study. Results came back normal except for the fact that he vomited during the study. She recommended the Kennedy Kreiger Institute (KKI) (sp?) in Baltimore, Maryland where they have a behavioral feeding clinic. She said that they have success with kids that they can’t help. We were also seen by the Stanford Infant Behavioral and Development Clinic across the street from Lucille Packard Children’s hospital.

Everyone said that Daniel had severe oral/feeding aversion but they all threw their hands up and said they couldn’t help and didn’t know what to do. Then I read a glowing review about the FCSM from a mom who had a picky eater. If I recall correctly, this boy only ate dairy items and breads. He had never eaten a sandwich or fries or any “normal” food that a 3 year old eats.

We went in for an initial evaluation. Ben Zimmerman, the guy who runs the place, observed me feeding Daniel a jar. Then took over the feeding for the last a few bites. When he was done, Ben said that Daniel was “a simple case.” I was shocked because all the medical establishment people had no idea what to do with Daniel. Honestly I had my doubts. It seemed like too confident a statement to make. We went in for another seven sessions


Kirstin, mother of Haley (10 months) | Bay Area, California

Condition : NG Tube Dependent

after_feeding_therapy before_feeding_therapyMy daughter Haley was born with Pierre Robin Sequence at 32 weeks and severe acid reflux. She had a jaw distraction at Stanford Children’s Hospital at 6 months of age to make her jaw bigger. It was a very successful surgery and the Plastics team did an amazing job.

After her surgery the plastics team kept asking me at each appointment “Is she eating?” The answer was always the same “No.” The team could not understand why she was not eating. Haley still had a cleft pallet but it should not have prevented her from eating. We had an upper GI scan and all was normal. She had excessive vomiting, and an extremely sensitive gag reflex.

When Haley was 4 months old I started seeing an occupational therapist at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital. Each meal I would spend playing with Haley’s food, getting her familiar with the small, taste, and touch. I even taught her to play the drums with the spoon, but she wouldn’t eat.

At ten and a half months, she had never eaten food by mouth when we came to Feeding Clinic of Los Angeles. The occupational therapist had discouraged me


Manilla, mother of Nida (3-years-old) | Bay Area, California

Condition : G Tube Dependent

My daughter was a premie (27 weeks) and weighed 2 lbs. 4 oz. She had a hemorrage in her brain on both sides that caused hydrocephalus. She required a vp shunt when she was 3 months old and had 5 surgeries due to shunt malfunction and one time it got infected.

They started her on my breastmilk through an NG-tube when she was one month old. She could suck for 2 months. Half of the feeding was through a bottle and when she would get tired the rest would be fed to her through the NG tube. After the surgery for vp shunt, she lost her sucking reflex.

When she was discharged from the hospital at 7 months old, she came home with the NG-tube. I hated to put the NG-tube. When she was one year old, she started vomiting and had diarrhea. We were changing the formula, but her condition was still the same. Finally the GI MD said that the NG-tube might be the cause because it is not supposed to be for long-term use. So we had to put the G-tube.

I have tried going to so many OTs, but nobody could help her with eating by mouth.


Maria, mother of Jack (age 7) | New York

Condition : Picky Eater

We have recently returned to New York from a 3 1/2 week intensive program at Ben Zimmerman’s feeding clinic. My son is seven years old and suffered from extreme food selectivity. At age 2, he started gagging and throwing up on food and started severely limiting his food intake and variety.

My life for the last five years has revolved around trying to get him to eat and spending sleepless nights worrying because he did not. His diet consisted of white bread (no crusts), white bagels, pancakes, waffles, french fries, yogurt (smooth texture) and pretzels (he had no problem with junk-cakes, cookies, candy, chips, etc). He refused all fruits, vegetables, meat, eggs except for the occasional chicken mcnugget. He also had a lot of weird rituals with food – i.e. had to be the correct temperature, pancakes only for dinner, only eating half of each cracker, etc, etc, etc., etc!!

Also of note is that at age 2 Jack decided he did not like being barefoot. He has worn socks 24 hours/day ever since–in the pool, on the beach!!! He would FREAK out if anyone tried to remove them. I gave up and got him speedo “swim socks”! Jack has undergone 3 years of occupational therapy for his eating issues and for sensory integration disorder, at one point going 3 times a week for the eating specifically. We have taken him to at least 3 different psychologists, a speech pathologist specializing in feeding issues and have spent probably thousands of dollars.


Kristin, Mother of Allyson (2 ½ years old, repaired cleft lip/palate and ectodermal dysplasia) | Los Angeles, California

Condition : G Tube Dependent

Allyson is 2 ½ years old and has been fed through a g-tube since she was 3 months old because she was aspirating and classified as “failure to thrive”. It was determined that she had an “underdeveloped swallow” and couldn’t coordinate her “breathe, suck, swallow” properly because of her cleft palate. She also has reflux and delayed gastric emptying. For most of her life, Allyson has been fed through her g-tube via a pump at a relatively slow rate. Allyson is also affected with ectodermal dysplasia. This condition is characterized by poorly formed teeth, many missing teeth (her only tooth on the bottom is a molar), dry mouth and minimal saliva, and a small jaw/large tongue.

At nine months old, Allyson was cleared to try pureed food, but we were “warned” not to push food on her too much until her cleft palate was repaired (at thirteen months). Several doctors and therapists told us that “she would eat” once her cleft palate was repaired and the g-tube would be gone a few months later. I assumed they were right and that she’d eat once she was anatomically “fixed.” No one told us HOW to make her eat. So we tried and offered and waited and tried and offered and waited. We’ve worked with two OTs and a SLP for approximately 15 hours/month for the past year and half – that’s 270 hours of professional expertise! During that time, Allyson was 100% medically safe to eat and never had any oral aversions or defensiveness. Her reflux and delayed emptying were under control with medication (Reglan, Zantac, Prevacid). She tried a variety of foods and seemed to enjoy eating, but would never eat enough by mouth to sustain her caloric needs. At 2 ½, Allyson also no longer sat still to eat, so she often ate while being chased around the house with a spoon. After all of our efforts, Allyson was still being feed 50% through her g-tube – I was desperate for help!

I found this website earlier this year when I was frustrated about Allyson’s apparent enjoyment in eating, but unwillingness to do so consistently. We had gone through too many rounds of “one step forward, two steps back” and I was determined to find a program to move us forward and help us reach our goal of being “g-tube free by three”! 


Marion, mother to Luke (4 years old) | San Francisco, California

Condition : Picky Eater

I am the mother of a four year old little boy that ate normally solid foods from a spoon up to the time he was fifteen months old, which was exactly the moment his brother was born. Subsequently, he would only take the bottle and refused solid food. The bottles were like a smoothie, filled with protein, carbs, vegetables and fruits. We went to a food clinic within a hospital, went to many different therapists and consultants, to no avail. Prior to starting the program with Ben, my son would drink eight to nine bottles a day and would eat occasionally a yogurt, refusing any other solid food.


Nicole, Mother of Greg (4 year old with severe autism) | Los Angeles, California

Condition : Picky Eater

Our son was almost 5 years old when he entered the Feeding Clinic of Los Angeles. Greg had feeding problems all his life and for over a year had refused all solid food. He never had medical problems; however, he is autistic and sensory issues arising from autism caused a strong aversion to putting anything in his mouth.


Amy, mother of Julia (5 months) | Bay Area, California

Condition : Failure to Thrive

My second daughter Julia was born full term. Healthy and happy things started off pretty normal for her until we noticed some excessive spitting up. Little did we know what was lying ahead for us. Julia ended up having a very severe case of Reflux which made her very uncomfortable.

At only 5 weeks she began refusing to nurse and refusing to eat completely. We thought she was going through a rough patch and that it would pass soon. After weeks with no change we got worried. At Julia’s 2 month check up she had barely gained any weight and was diagnosed as Failure to Thrive.

We immediately took action to try to get her weight up. We began trying to force feed her. I literally would sit there for hours and hours each day trying to get her to eat just 2 oz. Every single feeding was an absolute nightmare. Julia would just cry, scream, kick and do what ever she could do to not eat. It was heartbreaking to see my baby go through this several times a day. Eventually, from exhaustion she would fall asleep and only then when she was passed out would she begin to eat tiny bits. The worst part was after all that she would then vomit all the food we had just worked so hard for.

After many doctors appointments her pediatrician prescribed her Zantac. That ended up being no help. Julia was then referred to a GI specialist. Her GI doctor changed her medication to Prilosec and said that would do the trick. Hoping the medication would help we waited for any sign of improvement.

After weeks, then months of no change we were frustrated. No doctors could offer her any help so, desperately my husband and I turned to the Internet. We found a few options but the one that stuck out to us was Feeding Therapy. Until then we never knew such a thing even existed. We then asked our Pediatrician to refer us to a feeding therapist. They sent us to one at our hospital but after our first visit we knew she was not qualified enough to handle Julia’s problem. It was very disappointing.


Uma, mother of 5 year old twins | Bay Area, California

Condition : G Tube Dependent

My daughter Nitya went from eating nothing by mouth to completely getting all her nutritional needs met by oral feeding in just 10 weeks.

My name is Uma and I am mother of 5 year old twins (two of surviving 25 week preemie triplets). My daughter Nitya came home from the NICU at 5 months with a G-tube. Following that, at 8 months she was on tracheotomy for the next 3 years. During this time she was not eating by mouth at all and was followed by OTs for oral-motor sensory issues. Since her decannulation in Dec 2004, we tried several approaches: home cooked blenderized food through G-tube, getting her to be hungry, sensory approaches, etc. all supervised under an OT – but these did not get her to eat by mouth. In March 2006, my occupational therapist suggested that I contact Benjamin Zimmerman at Feeding Clinic of Los Angeles… Now I am feeding her at home and this has been such an amazing experience for us to see her accept food by mouth.

Also in the last 5 years we could not get Nitya’s teeth cleaned. Her dentist suggested that she may need general anesthesia for a complete cleaning. Well, now since we started the behavioral therapy she is allowing me to brush her teeth. She has also randomly spoken 20 words and is imitating babbling now. Nitya has made tremendous progress in the last few months.

Audrey, mother of Vivian (18 months old) | Los Angeles, California

Condition : G Tube Dependent

Vivian was a 35 week preemie born at 4 pounds 5 ounces and 15 1/2 inches long. At birth her right lung collapsed. She remained in the NICU for over a month. During her stay she had her first genetic test which came back negative for major syndromes, such as Down Syndrome. Vivian has been tested for over 100 genetic syndromes, all negative. She was unable to eat much due to her vaulted palate, bifid uvula, and a submucous cleft. Vivian had every test (swallow study, upper GI, etc.), every evaluation (speech, ENT, GI, etc.), and also seen a ton of specialists all over the country. No one was able to do much about her eating. She had been able to suck from a bottle for a few months and eat about 1/8 a jar of baby food.

When Vivian started eating less and less, we turned to the Feeding Clinic of Los Angeles in July of 2006 after finding them on the internet. Vivian was at the Feeding Clinic of Los Angeles for a total of 5 weeks. During that time various techniques were customized by Ben Zimmerman to help Vivian to eat. By the end of the 5 weeks I was doing all food preparation, calculations, and feeding. Vivian went from taking 690 ccs of Pediasure to eating up to 1680 calories by mouth!

Linda, mother of 26 week twin preemies with cystic fibrosis | Bay Area, California

Condition : G Tube Dependent

My 6 year-old twins were born at 26 weeks gestation and were on ventilators for the first 3 months of their lives before they were finally diagnosed with cystic fibrosis, a genetic illness which affects the lungs, pancreas and other mucous producing organs. The long intubation led to severe oral aversion, and the increased acid production, common in children with cf, led to reflux and emesis, contributing further to their aversion.

After many years of feeding therapy that resulted in little progress, we learned of Ben Zimmerman’s clinic through their Gastroenterologist’s office and also through a client whose older son attended the same kindergarten as my son. I was excited by the progress of her toddler, and called the Feeding Clinic of Los Angeles for an appointment for my twins in May of 2006.


Jennifer, mother of Max who is 3 years old | Bay Area, California

Condition : Picky Eater

Hi Moms,
I recently began taking Maxwell, my 3 year old, to a feeding clinic in Los Altos for severe food refusal. Those of you who know me well, know that he has lived off of milk, yogurt, cheese, and crackers for the past two years (I am not exaggerating — he has never eaten pizza, fruit, macaroni, juice, etc).

I have taken him to see several different pediatricians, a nutritionist, an occupational therapist, and a child psychiatrist, but until recently was unsuccessful in finding someone who could help him. I had tried everything, except putting him in an inpatient behavioral unit (i.e. a hospital setting). I recently discovered the Feeding Clinic of Los Angeles and started taking him there.

Before going, he refused to try anything (he said he was scared of the food and so on). He has some texture and sensory issues, which is what initially started his food refusal.


Sumaya, Mother to Rimaan (5 months old, only eats in sleep) | Bay Area, California

Condition : Failure to Thrive

Our son had severe food refusal/oral aversion when he was 5 months old. He would absolutely refuse to take his milk. He would go 17 hours without getting hungry and we would feed him using a dropper.

His weight was steadily dropping, so we had to take great pains to make sure he gets something. It would take 1 to 2 hrs to feed him just 4 ounces of milk in his sleep and all we would do in a typical day is feed him.

He required a lot of toys and distractions. Sometimes he required to be put asleep for his milk feedings which also was quite impossible as he was deep sleeper and would stop sucking after 1 or 2 ounces.

And after all this effort, he would throw up. Things were quite difficult with a lot of cleaning up of his throw-up. He would always gag and throw up whatever was fed. We had to literally force feed him to make sure he got the bare minimum. This was becoming increasing stressful on me and my husband that we both had to take time off from work to take care of our son.

We also tried solids on him which was even more disastrous, as he would throw up the milk he had in the previous feeding. We were not even successful in getting him to take even 1 small spoonful of food. Because of the stress, my health was getting impacted too.

After hearing about success stories about Feeding Clinic of Los Angeles from numerous feeding support groups and our GI specialist, who was familiar with the clinic, gave us a referral to Feeding Clinic of Los Angeles.


Ellie, mom to Sava (17 months) | Bay Area, California

Condition : Failure to Thrive

Our son, Sava, came to the Feeding Clinic of Los Angeles when he was almost sixteen months old. At that point, his weight had fallen off the charts and his height was starting to slip as well.

As an infant, Sava had bloody stools and moderate reflux, which later got diagnosed as allergies to dairy and soy; through food trials, we’ve determined that he is allergic to several other foods as well. Sava breastfed well and exclusively for the first six months, with me on a strict dairy/soy free diet.

He started becoming a distracted nurser when we started to introduce solids, and by nine months he was nursing so erratically that I was forced to switch over to pumping in order to make sure that he drank the required amount of breastmilk. I continued to pump–a full-time round-the-clock job–until we came to the Feeding Clinic of Los Angeles, since breastmilk was the only nutritious food Sava was guaranteed to take on a regular basis.

We started Sava on solids at six months, but he never took to the spoon with enthusiasm; around nine months, he stopped taking the spoon altogether, and we followed the advice of pediatricians, as well as an occupational therapist, not to push him. He self-fed from eight until sixteen months, but because his diet was already limited and he became increasingly picky, by sixteen months he was eating very few foods, and he was not getting enough calories. If we tried to give him anything from a spoon, he would push us away and start crying and fussing. To make things worse, because we were so desperate to have him eat, we gradually helped him develop all sorts of bad eating habits: breakfast only at the park while playing, french fries almost every dinner, the list goes on.


Ann, mother of Kathryn (12 months) | Bay Area, California

Condition : Failure to Thrive

Katie was born with a cleft palate and throat muscle palsy which made it very difficult for her to drink.  At 8 months she underwent surgery to repair her cleft which left her traumatized and unwilling to take a bottle or sippy cup.  She would only consume milk by spoon and it was not enough to sustain her growth or cognitive development.  She had fallen off the charts in height and weight despite us spending practically all our time struggling to get her to eat.  At the Feeding Clinic of Los Angeles we were taught new feeding protocols and how to prepare high calorie, nutritionally dense food so now meal times are no longer a fight and Katie’s steadily gaining weight.  As a result, she’s climbed up to the 25th percentile in weight and is still gaining.

Rachel, mom of Scarlett (6 months) | Austin, Texas

Condition : Failure to Thrive

My husband and I welcomed twins, a boy and a girl, born at 33 weeks. After a few weeks as “feeders and growers” in the NICU their ng tubes were removed and they came home. Our daughter Scarlett never took the number of bottles they wanted her to in the NICU and we were instructed to feed her what she did not finish in a bottle via a ng tube. We stopped this practice after one month of being home with her. At this time she began spitting up large volumes of her bottles and her disposition at feedings went from lethargic to irritable and combative. Everyone said she would “grow out of it” and “oh, you have a reflux baby” and the most annoying, “she is probably picking up on your stress, try to relax!” We did everything we could to make feeding her relaxing: dimming the lights, soft music, walking her around the block, swaddling her, you name it. My mother in law sent me the web link to Feeding Clinic of Los Angeles but I hoped she would grow out of it. We struggled through life with our twins at 3, 4, 5, and 6 months old with an unbearable weight of stress, concern, worry and anguish. We took Scarlett to a pediatric gi who dismissed our concerns. We consulted with other pediatric gi specialists, many of whom suggested the fundo surgery, which has a lifetime of side effects. We tried every medication for reflux available. We met with a speech therapist who did weekly weight checks and encouraged us to get a feeding tube and “try to bond with her in other ways”. Scarlett was losing weight and in the 5th percentile. In the whole month of May she gained 2 ounces. Each day and night was a slow passing of minutes and hours spent fruitlessly coaxing her to eat. At 4 and 5 months some days she took in as little as 13 ounces, the highest was 24 ounces. It could take 30 minutes to feed her 1 ounce and we usually had to feed her when she was asleep because she would scream like we were killing her when we fed her when she was awake. My husband and I were juggling careers, twins and serious concerns about our daughter’s health. I gave up hope that she would “grow out of it” but did not want to subject her to surgery with its side effects and likely consequences of demanding a feeding tube. The final straw came when we tried to feed her solids. She vomited literally everything and every time we fed her. We tried that for weeks and finally gave up and consulted with Ben.

At 6 months of age, Scarlett began his program. We had to leave our home, friends, family and our jobs (in Texas) to fly to CA and move into a hotel to do the program. Of course, I’m not including paying for the program! But it had reached a point in our lives where it was no longer bearable or tolerable.


Emma, mom of Sheldon (10 months) and Rozanna (7 years) | Bay Area, California

Condition : Failure to Thrive

Both of my two children received treatment at Feeding Clinic of Los Angeles. Rozanna was born full term and never had any medical problems. For a reason we may never know, she lost interest towards feeding around 3 months of age. I had to stop breastfeeding and pump, adding formula to breast milk in a bottle to increase calories. She didn’t care much for the bottle, even when she should have been very hungry. It was so strange that a child would not want to eat. Things did not get better with introduction of solids. She’d only eat crunchy foods that did not smear on her hands or in & around her mouth, such as a fresh cucumber, celery, watermelon. After a while, she got used to Pediasure from a bottle. Her weight, even though growing little by little, remained under the curve, and I did not have peace being unable to make my child eat better. Years of weekly OT sessions at Stanford and Children’s Health Council, consultations with a psychologist and psychiatrist, did not produce significant results. At 7 years of age, I still had to feed my daughter in order to get sufficient amount of calories in, and she took a very long time to chew her food.


Barbara, mother of Ben (3-years-old) | Bay Area, California

Condition : Picky Eater

My son’s feeding aversion started when he was 2-years-old. The food he was eating consisted of applesauce, yogurt, smoothies and crackers. During his 2 year check up with the pediatrician I addressed my concerns about his limited food intake. The doctor explained that there was no reason for concern and this was just a “picky” phase which he would grow out of.

At the same time, my son was being tested for delayed speech and needed to start speech therapy once at week. I learned from the initial evaluation and his assigned speech goal was to strengthen his weak jaw muscles and this would eventually help with his feeding aversions. As the year progressed my son’s speech started to improve a little but his feeding aversion and food intake got worse. As a result, I spent hundreds of dollars on any and every book on eating habits for toddlers and continued with no success.

By his 3rd birthday he was only eating cereal, applesauce, crackers…and sometimes a smoothie. His ribs were starting to show and his tall body was getting too thin. This time at my son’s yearly check up our pediatrician said not to worry and to start presenting meals with no snacks in between and eventually he will eat. The doctor warned us that my son might not eat for a day but will be too hungry to resist the meals the following day. So I went home determined for this plan to work. My son did starve himself for two days and the third day he woke up throwing up clear liquid with bile shortly followed by spells of dry heaving. Then the rest of the day he spent on the couch trying to get his strength and color back. I thought it was a virus he was fighting until it became a pattern.

Once again, I met with our pediatrician about these recent developments and he recommended some tests to be done. The results showed there was no organ damage and all the blood tests came out fine. The next step was to get an upper GI test but after my son and I returned from a family vacation, I was exhausted and frustrated with having no plan and on what to do with my son getting thinner and refusing to eat.

Another reason for my exhaustion was going through the past year with my son’s challenging behavior. I was not able to communicate well with my son due to his delayed speech as well as my son’s hunger lead to many lengthy tantrums.

So I started to do my own research on the computer. I believed there had to be a place, hospital, or clinic that could help with this type of problem. The advice from others was driving me crazy because it all started with, “oh, it sounds like you have a picky eater. Don’t worry he will grow out of it.”

Luckily, I found a place called the Feeding Clinic of Los Angeles. I picked up the phone immediately and called Mr. Zimmerman. After looking over his website and reading his background I started to finally feel some glimmer of hope. To be honest, I was counting down to days till our evaluation with Mr. Zimmerman.

After our initial meeting with Mr. Zimmerman I believed we were at the right place. He discussed what the treatment program would entail and gave me a list of families who had graduated from the clinic. He explained that not all kids are the same, therefore, each treatment program is different and designed for your child. Furthermore, I was told that Ben would eventually be eating various meats, seafood, vegetables, and fruits. I laughed