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The Power of Renaming: A Speech-Language Pathologist's Perspective on Pediatric Feeding Disorders Therapy

Updated: May 7

In the world of speech-language pathology, specialists dealing with pediatric feeding disorders constantly explore innovative strategies to make therapy more engaging and effective. One such strategy that has gained momentum is the art of renaming. In this post, we will delve into the significance of renaming from the perspective of a speech-language pathologist (SLP) specializing in pediatric feeding disorders.

Understanding Pediatric Feeding Disorders:

Pediatric feeding disorders encompass a range of difficulties related to eating, drinking, and swallowing in children. These disorders can manifest in various ways, including sensory aversions, oral-motor challenges, and difficulty transitioning to different textures. Therapy for pediatric feeding disorders often requires a holistic approach that goes beyond traditional speech-language pathology techniques.

The Role of Renaming in Therapy:

1. Reducing Anxiety and Fear:

Renaming helps in reframing the narrative surrounding food and eating. By assigning fun and positive names to different foods or utensils, the child is more likely to approach the therapy session with curiosity rather than anxiety. This can be especially crucial in cases where children have developed aversions or fears related to specific foods.

Imagine a child who is terrified of broccoli. Instead of referring to it as "broccoli," the SLP might rename it as "green power trees." This playful term not only reduces the anxiety associated with the vegetable but also adds an element of fun and curiosity to the therapy session.

2. Building Positive Associations:

Renaming allows SLPs to associate enjoyable and positive experiences with the act of eating. This can be particularly beneficial when working with children who have had negative or traumatic experiences with feeding in the past. Creating a positive environment fosters a healthier relationship with food and encourages children to explore new tastes and textures. Consider a child who has a negative association with the spoon. Renaming the spoon as the "magic wand" can transform the act of eating into a magical experience. This positive association can gradually shift the child's perception, making the therapy session more enjoyable.

3. Enhancing Engagement and Motivation:

Children, especially those with feeding disorders, often respond positively to play-based and interactive approaches. Renaming transforms therapy into a playful and engaging experience, making it more likely for children to actively participate and cooperate during sessions. This increased engagement contributes to the overall success of the therapy. For a child struggling with textured foods, renaming can turn the experience into an adventure. Instead of talking about "crunchy carrots," the SLP might introduce the concept of "superhero bites." This not only engages the child but also motivates them to conquer the challenge of trying new textures.

4. Personalizing the Therapy Experience:

Every child is unique, and so are their preferences. Let's say a child has a fondness for animals. The SLP can personalize the therapy by renaming different foods based on animals – "lion grapes," "elephant crackers," or "monkey bananas." You can also use animal toothpicks to assign a bite to each animal in this case. This approach tailors the therapy to the child's interests, making it more relatable.


As speech-language pathologists specializing in pediatric feeding disorders continue to explore innovative approaches, the power of renaming emerges as a valuable and effective strategy. By harnessing the potential of positive associations, reduced anxiety, increased engagement, and personalization, SLPs can create a therapeutic environment that empowers children to overcome challenges related to feeding. Renaming is not just a linguistic exercise; it's a transformative tool that holds the key to unlocking a world of positive experiences for children on their journey towards healthier eating habits.

Ready for more tips like these? How about 52 of them, one for each week this year. Purchase my Tips at the Table E-book for Picky Eaters to gain access today! Cheers to happy and stress-free mealtimes! 

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