What our clients are saying about the Los Altos Feeding Clinic.
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 Los Altos Feeding Clinic 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 feeding A. the way we currently were and taking care of a newborn at the same time.
I finally decided it was time to contact Ben at the Los Altos Feeding Clinic when A. was 17 months old and we flew up for an evaluation a few weeks after that. During the evaluation, Ben could already identify the areas he would work on with A.'s eating and was confident that we could get her eating much more food without using distractions. He has had a lot of experience with children that had similar eating problems and it was a relief to talk to someone who knew exactly what I was going through and more importantly, could offer me a real solution with a definitive time frame. Not knowing too much about the Los Altos Feeding Clinic and without speaking to anyone who had gone through a similar experience, we were taking a huge chance with Ben, but we didn't really have any other alternatives and we were desperate to do anything to get A. to eat. He was willing to take A. on as an intensive case less than a couple months after our evaluation (in fact, he could have started earlier, but we decided to hold off until after we switched insurance to cover some of the costs).
A. was almost 19 months old when we began treatment and I was 32 weeks pregnant - not an ideal situation, but it's just how things worked out. I took A. to the clinic for three meals every day (even on the weekends) and although it seemed like she was continuing to put up a good fight, she was in fact eating about 6 ounces of food for each meal, which was great. Of course I hoped that A.'s treatment would be on the shorter side, but it took a while for Ben to figure out the right protocol for her. We went through ups and downs and there were times when I worried that we would leave the clinic without any results, but Ben continued to work through any issues that came up and never for a moment doubted that he would not be able to meet the goals that we initially set for A.'s eating. After each meal, he took the time to talk to me about the progress we were making and answer any questions I had. He referred us to competent specialists while we were there to make sure there was nothing medically wrong with A. and that she was not allergic to any kinds of food. We ended up staying just a little over 5 weeks. With my pregnancy putting some time constraints on A.'s treatment, Ben was willing to do everything he could to make sure that I got trained in time before we went home, even though ideally we should have stayed another week. Amazingly, he had figured out a way to feed her a good amount of food in a short amount of time without distractions, and was able to train me to do the same.
After we got home, Ben and I stayed in contact on almost a daily basis and he took an incredible amount of time to watch meals through video chat or filmed footage I sent to him and provide me with feedback. We were an atypical case since we left the program "early" in order for me to get home and have the new baby, and we did go through a few rocky periods - adjusting to being back home, having to leave A. for a few days to have the baby, and then adjusting to being back home with the new baby. Through all of this, Ben was always available by phone or email and helped me get things back on track each time. We still have a ways to go before A. is eating appropriate foods for her age, but she continues to eat at least 5 ounces of purees per meal and it takes an average of 10 minutes to feed her, which has made my life so much easier. In addition, she has gained weight and no longer has "failure to thrive."
I can't thank Ben and everyone enough for working with me and A. every day during our time at the clinic, even on the weekends. Ben is not a "miracle worker"; he is simply a hard worker who is devoted to his practice and ensuring that the kids he sees leave the clinic eating. I would not wish for any parent to have a child with a feeding disorder or to go through what I went through with A., but if you do, at least there is a place like the Los Altos Feeding Clinic.
Michelle, mother of James (21 months), Sacramento, California
Intensive Feeding Disorders Program
James 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 running.
By chance we discovered that there were intensive feeding programs, however the specialist informed us that most programs would probably not accept James until after the NG tube was removed. Fortunately my husband took it upon himself to not be discouraged. He found Ben Zimmerman and the Los Altos Feeding Clinic website on a Monday, met with Ben on Wednesday and relocated our family to a hotel two hundred miles from home to start the program the following Tuesday. Ben passionately agreed that we needed to at least try intensive feeding therapy BEFORE we allowed James to go through yet another surgery, and while I thought Ben was maybe too confident, my hesitation was replaced by hope.
I am thrilled to report that today was our seventeenth day in the program and we will be going home tomorrow. Ben removed James’ NG tube on the second day and assured us it would not need to be replaced. James is eating three meals a day each consisting of 5 ounces of pureed food and six ounces of milk. We are amazed with the changes we are already seeing in him; he is stronger, more active and even his hair has filled in.
We have tired of speculating in all of James’ miracles what was the “thing” that did it…What allowed him to get over pneumonia for the last time? What was it what Ben did that succeeded where all others had failed, or rather not dared to venture? All we know is that we have a fighter who had never been comforted by eating, whose entire lifetime of experiences having to do with his face involved invasive tubes, tape and gloves. We did not anticipate that the intensive feeding program would be easy, nor do we think that the upcoming weeks and months will go without a hitch. We do know that our sacrifices will be worth it and that with each day we should see improvement. Finally, we are going home without a “tube.”
UPDATE December 22, 2012
Hi Ben! I just happened across some paperwork from James' time spent with you and thought I would say hello! All is going well. James is in Kindergarten now and there is nothing he won't eat! We hope you are doing well too!
C. and J., 2-year-old son J., Houston, Texas
Intensive Feeding Disorders Program
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 Los Altos Feeding Clinic through a website called www.childrenandbabiesnoteating.com. 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.
By the time we came to California for feeding therapy in July 2012, J. was almost 2 years old and had dropped to 24 pounds which was below the 3rd percentile in weight on the CDC growth chart. During our first meeting with Mr. Zimmerman, we could clearly see that Mr. Zimmerman had a unique understanding of the behavioral issues behind J.'s feeding difficulties and was able to effectively communicate to us all the steps that he would take to extinguish each bad behavior. Surprisingly for us, even though J. was generally healthy with no major medical issues, J.'s case ultimately ended up being a fairly complex case in part because we waited 18 months from the time we initially noticed the feeding difficulties to when we actually pursued feeding therapy. In hindsight, it would have been preferable to have J. participate in Mr. Zimmerman’s feeding therapy earlier so as to not to have wasted the time and money over the last 18 months with ineffective therapy and unnecessary medical intervention.
Our experience at Los Altos Feeding Clinic and with Mr. Zimmerman was an emotional roller coaster, but during our time there, we never felt any doubt that we would attain the feeding goals that we initially set. Mr. Zimmerman had a genuine concern for J.'s health and well being and thoughtfully advised us throughout the entire period of therapy and after. Moreover, Mr. Zimmerman was able to refer us to competent, local pediatric allergists and GI specialists to ensure that J. was healthy and prospering during our treatment.
During the training process, Mr. Zimmerman proved to be an effective and patient teacher, using only positive reinforcement and never wavering from the end goal. I was able to learn not only the critical techniques to feed J., but also I learned to change my attitude towards feeding my son from a negative experience to a neutral experience.
Although the therapy was very difficult and emotional, Mr. Zimmerman remained calm, positive, and confident at all times and consistently assured us that all of our feeding goals would be met. He was able to keep an otherwise stressful situation light and was extremely responsive, supportive, and explanatory, throughout the process. J. ended up gaining 5 pounds during the 5 weeks we were at LAFC and went from below the CDC growth chart in weight to the 75th percentile in weight. Additionally, we were able to ween J. off of the Eryped completely.
Intensive Feeding Disorders Program
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.
Anyways, our son and we were desperate; we didn’t see any feeding progress throughout this year besides the fact that no physical problem was found. Finally, our GI doctor referred us to Ben’s Los Altos Feeding Clinic. He found a way to feed our child and taught us to do this ourselves.
Tim was being fed by spoon only and was drinking from the cup; we didn’t have to use G-tube, which meant that he was taking all needed calories orally and was not suffering from the reflux. He was sleeping the entire night and was actually gaining weight. We saw real progress and finally had G-tube removed after 3 months.
Ben went through several stages; he had to teach Tim to eat, he had to get him used to the food, and, above all, he had to gain his cooperation and to make him enjoy the process. It is now a year and one month after we started the treatment. Tim eats any pureed food you give him, he is chewing chips and cereal, he is drinking milk, and it takes up to 10 minutes to feed him.
Helena and Dmitry
P.S. It may sound like it was an easy thing to do, but in reality, it was a grueling 7-days-a-week effort from Ben, his assistant, and us to accomplish this task. We are very grateful to Ben for making our life normal again.
Day Feeding Disorders Program
I want to thank you for the incredible results you were able to achieve with James and finally solving his eating problem that no one else could.
As we told you, prior to learning about your clinic we had taken James to three other places to try and solve James’ extremely selective eating habits. We first saw a physician in Palo Alto who believed that James 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 James 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 James 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 James 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 James 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 James’ eating.
During this time James 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 James would eat would not necessarily be available. James’ 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 James would act like we were killing him if we asked him to try an unfamiliar piece of food that was no larger than a grain of salt. If we insisted that he eat it he would cry and beg us not to make him eat it. It was a horrible situation to witness. To see James sit at our kitchen table today and feed himself four different food items, some of which he had never seen before, was remarkable.
James is now willing to eat anything placed before him, even oysters. I do not think that I could even eat an oyster. James may not be completely happy with what he is eating but he will nevertheless eat it without a fuss. This is light years ahead of where he came from and you were able to accomplish this in all of 8 weeks. James has gained weight during the last 8 weeks and is now at his proper weight. It is nice to no longer see his ribs show.
Our household in no longer in a bunch of stress over this, my wife and I are no longer arguing about the problem, and we can finally travel and enjoy a summer away from home. We are now taking our first vacation in years and are going to Hawaii this July with other trips planned thereafter.
I wish I could say more than just thank you. I truly hope you will remain in this profession because you are a rare find and many children will need you. Again, thank you so very much.
Very truly yours,
Intensive Feeding Disorders Program
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.
We 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.
We 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 look elsewhere in the Europe and the rest of the world.
Only in US we found this specialist treatment programs after months of research in the internet. When we found Los Altos Clinic and reading their successful stories of children coming out from the tube feeding we felt our prayers are answered and the divine showed us some help. We contacted the clinic which is very helpful and gave a lot of parents contacts whose children were treated here and came out from tube feeding. We decided to take the big step as last resort to prevent him going to have G tube eventually.
His therapist Ben was very helpful and according to his treatment protocol he has been eating and drinking by mouth and gaining weight. He also restarted to take the bottle. We would like to thank Ben for the wonderful service he provides to these type of children.
UPDATE April 20, 2012
Thank you very much for all your help. S. is doing well since we were there in September 2008.
Intensive Feeding Disorders Program
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 desperately to give him the minimum amount of calories he needed in order to keep him from dropping off the growth curve completely and needing a tube.
All of that changed when we brought Zach to the Los Altos Feeding Clinic. On the very first day, Ben was able to get Zach to eat pureed foods from a spoon, and in quantities we couldn’t believe. Before coming to the clinic, the most pureed food Zach had ever eaten at one sitting was 2 oz, and that was rare. But Ben fed him 7 –8 ounces at each meal that first day, and in only a few minutes! By the end of his therapy I was feeding Zach up to 11 oz. of food per meal (purees from a spoon and formula from an open cup) and he had gained 1 pound.
It has been almost three weeks now since we returned home from the clinic, and we have been able to continue feeding Zach very successfully using the protocol Ben taught us. Although he has a ways to go before he is eating age-appropriate foods, we are amazed at the progress he has made, and thrilled to see that his weight has already climbed back up to the 25th percentile! He also has so much energy I can barely keep up with him.
Prior to coming to the clinic, we had Zach evaluated at the Kennedy Krieger Institute (KKI) in Baltimore. They told us we would have to wait 6 months to enter their intensive Day Treatment Program, we would need to be there for 8 weeks, and in the meantime they would recommend that we get Zach a G-tube! When I heard that, I knew we had made the right choice in coming to see Ben first – even if it meant we had to travel from the East Coast to California. Unlike KKI, Ben was able to see us within a few weeks, he completed our therapy in less than 5 weeks, and he is committed to keeping kids OFF the tube, which was exactly what we wanted for Zach. He also provided just the sort of supportive environment and tailored flexible program we were looking for.
We are SO grateful that we found Ben and the Los Altos Feeding Clinic!!! If your child has feeding issues, we cannot recommend Ben’s program highly enough.
Intensive Feeding Disorders Program
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 gave us all of 3 weeks and suggested that I reach out to Ben for feeding therapy. Those 3 weeks turned out to be life saving for our then 5 month old.
Ben started feeding him a bit of solids (the baby had never had solids before) and some milk at every feed. And feed over feed, we started to see a gradual reduction in his refusal and his vomiting, and a slow and steady increase in his appetite and eating. We were very encouraged and hope was renewed all over, but were still under pressure from our doctors, who wanted to see rapid weight gain happen. I was skeptical if that was even practically possible, it seemed to me the doctors wanted magic.
We expressed our concern to Ben, who without hesitation decided to provide round the clock feeding support to our baby to get us over the hump. For the next couple of weeks, Ben would feed our baby every 4 hours from 6 in the morning, until 7:30 at night, weekdays and weekends alike. There were days when I was tired and exhausted, but every single morning Ben would be there before I was, bright, and positive and encouraging, ready to feed my little one. And soon enough, within days the baby started to show dramatic improvement in appetite and eating and weight gain. The refusal and vomiting were starting to disappear too.
Over a period of 3 weeks, he gained over 3 pounds, and his feeds were going from long, difficult, crying sessions to quick, efficient, happy meals. The baby too, was having a lot of fun - laughing and playing and squealing at mealtime. His biggest smiles of the day were now for Ben. The magic the doctors had wanted, had indeed happened - thanks entirely to Ben.
Ben then worked with me to teach me to do the feeding myself. He was wonderful as a teacher too - patient and encouraging, and still methodical and persistent, fully understanding and supportive of a parent's needs. We now leave Ben's clinic as immensely relieved, happy parents of a healthy baby. My baby who had been born textbook-healthy and perfectly normal, and had this difficult, but common problem has now gone back to his happy, bubbly, cheerful self. I don't even remember how things got so bad so quickly, all I remember now is Ben's support helping us get back to the wonderful place of happy parenthood.
Intensive Feeding Disorders Program
Our 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 Los Altos Feeding Clinic. 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 for over a year I knew that we had to do something. Mya’s weight gain was almost non-existent and she had fallen off the growth chart completely.
Thankfully we found the Los Altos Feeding Clinic and now after 8 weeks of therapy Mya is eating over 1000 calories of pureed foods and drinking 24 ounces of milk a day!!! She has been off her tube 100% for over 6 weeks now!!! She is back on the growth chart and has gained almost 2 pounds! It has been amazing watching her grow and not be hooked up to a tube for several hours a day!
Ben Zimmerman was there for us every step of the way and always available to answer any questions we may have. We never felt rushed through appointments and we even did therapy 7 days a week to keep Mya off her feeding tube! Although at times we have felt that this journey has been a roller coaster ride we know that one day we are going to get off this roller coaster for good!
Ben has been able to get Mya’s extreme vomiting and gagging problem under control and at times I truly wondered if it were ever going to be possible! Now we realize with the right help anything is possible! Ben Zimmerman has such a passion for his career and it shows!! We couldn’t have made a better decision for our daughter!
Day Feeding Disorders Program
We never imagined we would be writing a testimonial about a feeding clinic. But Ben Zimmerman at the Los Altos Feeding Clinic 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 further and found the Los Altos Feeding Clinic. In the first weeks Ben focused on broadening the range of tastes Alex would eat by using pureed foods. These were the weeks when Ben showed Alex how past behavioral tactics that he had used with us would no longer work. At moments it was challenging but we were impressed at how well our son responded to Ben. Then there was the first session where Ben introduced solid food (hot dog and an apple) and we just about fell off our chairs as we watched Alex eat with a smile on his face. It was remarkable—and it just got better from then on. After a 5 week program of 3 sessions per week, Alex now eats EVERYTHING!! You name it, Italian, Mexican, Asian, any vegetable, fruit, salads and even sushi!
Today, we are just floored by the outcome and truly grateful to Ben Zimmerman for his “magic”. We are extremely proud of our son and very relieved to have his eating issues resolved. It wasn’t until we went through the program at the Los Altos Feeding Clinic that we realized what a toll the eating issue had taken on our son. Today, Alex is very proud of his eating accomplishments, confident, happy and eager to try new food. Amazing!!!
Intensive Feeding Disorders Program
“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:
- The increased risk of infection to Ivy’s brain via the two v.p. shunts she has
- The burden of yet another operation
- 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 and at our last visit (Sept ’08) to the Gastro-enterologist it was arranged that I meet the surgeon and be taken through the procedure.
We also went to a 2nd Hospital for more information and hopefully a second opinion.
Both hospitals ended up giving us a date for Ivy’s gastrostomy, one for the 15th December 2008 and the other midway through 2009.
It was at this time that my own investigation for an alternative had led me to contact Ben Zimmerman at the Los Altos Feeding Clinic in California and after talking extensively with Ben and his previous clients we decided (against the advice of all our doctors, speech therapists etc.) to leave for California in early November to attend the Los Altos Feeding Clinic for 6 weeks.
I am so glad we made that decision and am very grateful Ivy had this opportunity. Needless to say we were anxious about travelling half way around the world with Ivy to undergo treatment that we or anyone we know had no experience or prior knowledge of. Anyway the results speak for themselves. On the 3rd day, Ivy’s NG tube was discarded. At 21 days she had gained 2kg. At 4 weeks I took over the feeding and on the 23rd December after 6 weeks we landed back in Sydney with no tube.
I found the next weeks tough getting Ivy used to another feeding environment, recovering from a 13 hour flight and having to be solely responsible for her feeding but Ben is only a phone call away and we have regular calls about Ivy’s progress.
At home I alone feed Ivy in a closed bedroom away from distractions. She has bad days but overall progress is phenomenal. The food is a smooth puree still and probably will be for another 6 months. As yet her hunger cycle hasn’t kicked in but it won’t be long till she’s dragging the food off the spoon.
Ivy still gags and coughs throughout her meal but to a much lesser degree than when we first returned and it’s a rare thing now to see her vomit during and /or between meals, unless she’s constipated.
Personally, I envisage Ivy will be sitting and eating with us at mealtimes in 2 months time but I will be guided by Ben on this.
All in all, our experience at the feeding clinic was very, very positive and to have Ivy off the ng tube and off the feeding pump, her face free of tape, her lovely sound sleep, and huge reduction in reflux is a wonderful dream come true......we are incredibly thankful to everyone involved.
Intensive Feeding Disorders Program
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 to feed him 4oz of baby food and he wouldn't drink anything; so back to using the g-tube forever at this point. Until I found Ben Zimmerman at the Los Altos Feeding Clinic. Thank God!
Ben took Andy on within weeks of my first phone call to him. Within the first week at the clinic Andy was no longer using his g-tube for nutrients. After 2 weeks of Ben feeding Andy I got to try. Incredible! Less than 30 minutes to feed Andy 8oz of food and 6oz of milk. Real milk, no more formulas!!
We spent 4 full weeks at the clinic and then went home. Everyday gets better and faster to feed Andy. Ben Zimmerman is a miracle worker; I had lost a hope of Andy ever eating like a normal child, and Ben gave me back hope, and a life. What he gave Andrew is much more. Andy is talking, eating and walking. He is thriving in a matter of a few short weeks. All I can say is trust Ben, he knows!! And trust in yourself and your child that you can get through the feeding by mouth; everyday is a huge improvement. Andy has a chance now at a normal, healthy life because he is eating by mouth. He is much happier, he's personality has changed for the better; even his color has changed from eating real food!!
Day Feeding Disorders Program
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 on the pacifier to trigger her swallowing. Toys and TV were effective distractions only in a short term.
Then, a couple of months ago I heard about the Los Altos Feeding clinic and Ben Zimmerman who does miracles with babies and kids: THEY START EATING! Kids who never ate by themselves started eating at his clinic.
I cannot describe how much I appreciate what Ben did for us. It was hard to change our behavior during feedings, to pay attention to our own reactions and responses to the baby. But the results have been overwhelmingly successful and worth all the hard work.
Ben showed us techniques that we had never heard of or been shown before. After only one week of feeding her and learning her habits, Ben was able to teach us how to stop using distractions during her meals. We adopted Ben’s protocol on a gradual basis, and brought our daughter’s caregivers into the process on an equally gradual basis. This has worked very well for both baby and adults, and will continue to bear fruit during the coming months.
We know our daughter will continue to improve if we stick with the program – and this is the best program we have seen! I would unreservedly recommend Ben’s feeding clinic to any parent whose baby has feeding issues.
Intensive Feeding Disorders Program
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 I 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.
During the time we were at UCSF for Caitlin’s heart surgeries, one of the occupational therapists had told me about Ben Zimmerman at the Los Altos Feeding Clinic. I gave him a call after three months of using the Kaiser referred feeding therapist and he agreed to work with my six month old daughter. At that time, I also contacted Caitlin’s pediatrician with the intent to work with Mr. Zimmerman. She made the referral and happily, it was approved.
Caitlin started seeing Mr. Zimmerman twice a week at the beginning of September and the immediate difference I noticed from the other therapist is that he did the work of feeding my daughter and assessing her troubles. We slowly increased our frequency of visits as he familiarized himself with her challenges and finally diagnosed and proposed treatment as an “intensive case”. He suggested we work with him daily for a minimum of two weeks in order to break her dependency on the feeding tube.
We agreed to this and spent twenty-six straight days at the Los Altos Feeding Clinic, including weekends, in order to teach Caitlin how to eat normally after being tube fed for the first six months of her life. We had made this commitment knowing that the only other option was a G-tube placement. Another surgery would have been a tremendous strain physically, emotionally, and financially.
After the first five days of intensive therapy, Mr. Zimmerman was able to remove the NG tube with the confidence that he would be able to keep it out. He did the feedings for the next two weeks until it was time to train us, Caitlin’s parents, on her specific feeding protocol. We were able to learn quickly at which time we all agreed she was able to be discharged from the intensive program.
Throughout all of Caitlin’s medical experiences this past year, Mr. Zimmerman has made one of the biggest impacts on our family. I have never encountered a more dedicated, hard-working, medical professional who would do whatever it takes (with the parents consent) to get his job done. Caitlin has been steadily gaining weight and developing normally for the last three months since we removed the feeding tube. We will forever be indebted to Mr. Zimmerman for what he has done for our family and Caitlin’s quality of life. I would highly recommend Mr. Zimmerman and the Los Altos Feeding Clinic to any family with a child six months or older who has a feeding problem. If the parents stay the course, he will likely get the job done of breaking a child’s feeding tube dependency.
Day Feeding Disorders Program
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. I was pleasantly surprised that Ben did not approach the child from their diagnosis and actually felt that behavioral therapy can be applied to any child. Additionally his work was not restricted to feeding alone but drinking could also be tackled in the same manner. With this information we started our sessions.
Ben was able to within a few sessions get Ria to drink a significant volume of drinks and also increased the variety of drinks she would take. He was able to get her to drink water, milk and juices at cold and warm temperatures.
We found Ben to be fantastic in his style of interaction with Ria being steady and compassionate. He also was able to explain what he was doing and why he was doing it, very clearly to us, which allowed us to understand the process better and helped in our follow-through at home. I was also impressed by how systematic Ben was in his approach.
We have now been working with Ben’s protocol at home and Ria continues to drink more than she every did before. It is exciting to see this progress and we look forward to continuing the work so that she begins to really ask for the drinks one day. The great thing is that Ben is also a great resource and is always available to answer questions.
I highly recommend this method and Ben to anyone who has a child with any diagnosis or no diagnosis but who simply has challenges in feeding and drinking.
Intensive Feeding Disorders Program
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 Los Altos Feeding Clinic.
Nina’s tube was out by the third day of therapy. After a 7-week treatment, Nina was taking all her food and drink orally, and had gained 2.5 pounds. We came back to the clinic for another 2 weeks to train my husband as a backup feeder (mom needs a break…). We ended up with an easier protocol because Nina’s eating skills had improved over the past two months. Now, she is taking 400-500 calories per meal, three meals a day. Each meal takes 20 minutes. The best of all, she barely throws up!!! I guess the stomach is not meant to receive food directly…
Nina just turned one last week. She looked so cute without the tube on her birthday pictures. Thank you, Ben, from the bottom of my heart.
Intensive Feeding Disorders Program
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 Los Altos Feeding Clinic 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 to San Francisco and did not look back.
Ben worked one-on-one with Rebecca and had her eating solid foods within 2 days. He modified existing protocols and developed new techniques to deal with Rebecca’s food refusals. After a month Rebecca was taking 1200 –1500 calories orally she had gained 1lb and was being fed 3 times daily. Each session taking just 30 minutes.
In the month since we came home Rebecca has gained 4lbs. She has so much more energy and stamina – we never expected that food would make as big a difference as it has – but every week she seems to hit some minor development milestone. We know that we would never have got her to this level of eating without the Los Altos Feeding Clinic and even better Ben continues to stay in touch and help us fully refine her feeding process.
I have no hesitation in recommending Ben Zimmerman and the Los Altos Feeding Clinic. It works. Thank You!
Intensive Feeding Disorders Program
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 Los Altos Feeding Clinic. After working with Ben Zimmerman for a total of 29 days we are going home with my son being completely tube free. He has been tube free from the end of second week into the program. He is now feeding 6 oz of purees and 6 ounces of liquids for each meal three times a day. His total calorie intake is now 1500 calories and he is thriving. I forgot to mention he takes his meals in less than 8 minutes. I am saving so much time I can actually start to work on his other developments. I have already started to see lots of developments in all areas. I heard about Los Altos Feeding Clinic some time in mid of 2007. I regret that I didn't come here at that time. He would have caught up in his developments by this time.
Day Feeding Disorders Program
We have used the Los Altos Feeding Clinic (LAFC) 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 LAFC 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 and Daniel came out like a different child in two and half weeks. He now takes the protein and vegetable jars, without vomiting. There usually is a retch for the first one or two bites, but these days, he is vomiting approximately once every week or two. And he doesn’t empty the entire contents of his stomach. Daniel will try to make the effort to keep it down. He also has started to take some normal food like scrambled eggs, pasta, Chinese noodles, hamburger, and fries. And we no longer have to give him his milk asleep – he is drinking it from a special cut-out cup that we feed to him.
Daniel started out in the 10th percentile for weight and was quickly dropping as we started the LAFC. The doctors were talking about the possibility of Daniel getting a GI tube. Now he is a little below the 50th percentile for weight and never required the feeding tube. He still has some areas to work on though, like taking more textured foods and weaning him off the baby jars. Our insurance did not cover it although others do, but it was truly worth the expense. It is some of the best money we have EVER spent.
I also know of another family with 6 yr old cystic fibrosis (CF) twins who are classmates with my older child. They were taking most or all of their food through the tube. One of the twins is ready to come off the tube through the work that Ben has done at the LAFC, and the other who did not eat any food orally before is making significant progress.
Best of luck,
Intensive Feeding Disorders Program
My 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 Los Altos Feeding Clinic. The occupational therapist had discouraged me from coming and said to me "It’s all about volume there." I thought to myself "Well, it’s all about volume for me too. I need her to have enough food to grow and gain weight." So then I had to read the website. I was even more convinced. No one else I had talked to or met with had a plan to get Haley off the NG tube. When I read what other people had written I thought, these other children have much bigger problems than Haley and if he can get them off the NG tube, maybe they can get her off the tube too.
So we came to Los Altos Feeding Clinic and Ben Zimmerman got Haley off the NG tube. This has meant so much to me because she was scheduled to have surgery for a Nissan and for a G tube, and now she needs neither. He prevented her from having unnecessary surgery. I am so grateful. I just wish I had known about Los Altos Feeding Clinic sooner. I am more than happy to talk to anyone who has feeding problems with their child and they want to know more about our experience.
Watch video: See Haley Eat
Intensive Feeding Disorders Program
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 G-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. One day I was in the waiting room of one of the OTs and I saw a 3-year-old with an NG-tube. I started talking to the mom. She told me about an OT whom her GI doctor from Lucile Packard Children's hospital had just referred her to. I got really interested because that OT was referred to her from the GI MD. She was also planning to see Ben Zimmerman.
We exchanged phone numbers and that is how I got Ben's phone number. I always thank God for the day that I met that woman who gave me Ben's number. He was the answer to all of my questions. Listening to other people's success stories in Ben's waiting room was giving me more hope that my daughter would eat by mouth one day. And yes she is now. She is 3-year-old now and it is almost one year that she can eat.
Benjamin there are no words that I can find to thank you enough. Each time when I feed her I pray for you. My prayers will always be with you.
Thanks a lot
Intensive Feeding Disorders Program
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.
After extensive research online I found Ben Zimmerman. After 3 1/2 weeks of 3 meals/day/ 5 days/week, Jack was eating everything from sushi to spinach. It also took Ben about 2 seconds to get Jack to take his socks off! He has been barefoot-in the pool, in the sand- ever since! Jack came out of each session happy and proud of himself. I was shocked to see how he went back to the clinic so willingly everyday.
We have been home for 2 weeks now. The first few days were very hard. We have stayed consistent and each day is getting better and better. Ben is always there for phone consultation when you need him. The other night we went to a friends house and Jack had pizza and raw veggies with dip like all the rest of the kids. He went in the pool barefoot and without a shirt (another little quirk that Ben fixed!) All present at the party could not get over the change in Jack. Needless to say, we are thrilled. We can't say enough about Ben Zimmerman and would recommend him for anyone in the same situation. My only regret is that I did not get Jack out there sooner!
Kristin, Mother of Allyson (2 ½ years old, repaired cleft lip/palate and ectodermal dysplasia), Los Angeles, California
Intensive Feeding Disorders Program
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”! We had an evaluation with Ben in the spring and he told us that he could have Allyson off the g-tube in 4-6 weeks. Yes, I was skeptical, but I was willing to try his behavioral approach and help her learn to eat by mouth. On our second day at the clinic, Ben was able to feed Allyson enough pureed food by mouth that I didn’t have to feed her through the g-tube that night. It was the first time in 27 months and 5 days that she wasn’t hooked up to her feeding pump at bedtime! That was over 6 weeks ago and we haven’t looked back! Now I’m feeding Allyson using the protocols we learned at the clinic and she consistently eats 6-7 ounces of purred food and drinks 4-5 ounces of formula or milk at each meal. She’s also taking just one Prevacid/day and has been weaned off all her other medications.
Ben is able to help any child to eat as long as they’re medically safe to do so. Allyson had many cards stacked against her when it came to eating by mouth – g-tube dependent for over 2 years, cleft palate, missing teeth, lack of saliva, a large, uncoordinated tongue in a smaller-than-average jaw - and she’s now eating! It’s a huge commitment and a lot of hard work, but the end result is priceless. We spent just 5 weeks at the clinic working with Ben and he’s changed our lives forever… he can change yours too!
Day Feeding Disorders Program
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.
The first session with Ben, my son was fed 8 oz. of solid food with the spoon. We saw Ben approximately for 3 1/2 weeks, mostly three times a week. My son is now fed solid food with the spoon and drinks from an open cup. He has three meals a day, no bottles, and is rather happy to sit down and eat.
I am thrilled and overwhelmed with the success of Ben's method. I wish I could tell all the parents out there that have feeding difficulties with their children, do not waste your time and money to go down the road of therapies after therapies. Go to Ben, his method works like a miracle. Some people may think it is hard to go through it, but it really is not. It is in the best interest of your child. Thank you Ben! May many parents benefit from your knowledge.
Intensive Feeding Disorders Program
Our son was almost 5 years old when he entered the Los Altos feeding clinic. 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.
We tried several years of feeding therapy in our home town with no success. Our insurance recommended a hospital based feeding program but they were unwilling to treat our son due to behaviors related to his autism.
Fortunately we found Ben Zimmerman at the Los Altos feeding clinic. Ben's feeding method broke down our son's aversion to food in just a few days, and soon he was taking baby food willingly. The program trained us to feed our son properly in different locations. We went home after just 3 weeks.
We were worried about our son continuing to eat after going home where there was a long history of food refusal, but the feeding program was so solid that our son had few problems. In fact, he now asks to eat when he is hungry. We are thrilled with the results of this feeding program.
Day Feeding Disorders Program
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.
From there we turned back to the Internet and found Ben Zimmerman at the Los Altos Feeding Clinic. After reading so many great reviews it felt like the clouds had parted and there was finally help out there for Julia. We quickly made an appointment to get Julia evaluated and after just seeing her once Ben said that she was going to be an easy case and he knew exactly how to handle her. I left the appointment completely hopeful. Finally there was someone out there to help my Julia! After months of agony there was finally hope. Today Julia completed her 5 weeks of Therapy. Ben's technique was absolutely what Julia needed. Never once was he too forceful and after each session Julia would come out happy, smiling and laughing.
After only two sessions her feedings went from one hour plus to just 20 minutes. Incredible! She started her therapy as a baby that would not eat and today she is a baby that is opening her mouth to eat solids and drinking out of a cup. I know we still have fine tuning on some things but we're definitely on the right path and Julia is climbing up that growth chart. To say thank you to Ben would not be enough. He has made Julia a happier baby and that to me is a special gift. Thank you so much Ben! Amy Goldammer
Intensive Feeding Disorders Program
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 Los Altos Feeding clinic… 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.
Intensive Feeding Disorders Program
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 Los Altos Feeding Clinic in July of 2006 after finding them on the internet. Vivian was at the Los Altos Feeding Clinic 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!
Day Feeding Disorders Program
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 Los Altos Feeding Clinic for an appointment for my twins in May of 2006.
5 months later, they are no longer tube dependant, they are drinking the special high-calorie formula they have been getting through the tube since birth, and they are eating calorie enriched baby food for the first time in their lives. What is especially remarkable is that all of this was done without having to resort to the technique of introducing hunger to them - which is something we couldn't do because maintaining a high calorie diet is essential to the health and well-being of children with cystic fibrosis. For the first time, we are looking forward to a future in which my children can enjoy food and all the social milestones where food plays such an important role.
Thank you Los Altos Feeding Clinic and Mr. Zimmerman!
Day Feeding Therapy Program
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 Los Altos Feeding Clinic 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. Ben Zimmerman started working with him, and after only a month, he is eating food at home (all pureed at this point). We will be gradually increasing the texture, until he is eating "real" food. My husband and I are thrilled with the results so far and wanted to share this information, in case you or someone you know is in a similar situation.
Day Feeding Therapy Program
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 Los Altos Feeding Clinic from numerous feeding support groups and our GI specialist, who was familiar with the clinic, gave us a referral to Los Altos Feeding Clinic.
Within the first week, we could see difference in our son’s mealtime behavior. The feeding therapist Ben Zimmerman confirmed Rimaan's problem as behavioral. The therapist used a certain behavioral approach to feed Rimana. The treatment had its course of 4 weeks with 3 visits per week.
Rimaan's food intake improved dramatically after the 2nd week. I could get my son to open his mouth and eat. Because of consuming solid food, his liquid intake improved. Now my son eats very nutritious foods because of which he has gained a few pounds. From 5th percentile, he is now in the 50th percentile.
Previously he would throw up at least 4 times a day his complete feeding and now it is just once a day. This program has certainly worked for us so far. This has been our miracle.
We extend our grateful thanks to Los Altos Feeding Clinic for helping us out and restoring normalcy in our lives. Now I can do other fun things with my son besides just feeding him. The support system, resources, and information from Los Altos Feeding clinic is excellent and helped us through this ordeal.
Day Feeding Therapy Program
Our son, Sava, came to the Los Altos feeding clinic 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 Los Altos feeding clinic, 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.
We came to the Los Altos feeding clinic with one hope: to help Sava learn to eat from a spoon and to convince him to take in more, and more varied, calories; we also hoped that I would be able to get off the pump, since pumping had left me with no time to work or rest.
After four weeks of therapy with Ben, and many emotional ups and downs, we were able to take Sava home and to feed him three 6 oz. solid meals a day. Instead of the three or four foods that we had come to rely on as his main staple, we can now feed him everything to which he is not allergic. Meals last an average of fifteen minutes, and we no longer worry that he is not getting enough nutrients. Sava is still not the enthusiastic eater that some children are born to be, but his behavior during mealtimes is unrecognizable from what it was six weeks ago. To say simply that Ben Zimmerman and the Los Altos feeding clinic have been a blessing would not convey the extent of our gratitude. Our lives have been transformed.
Day Feeding Disorders Program
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 Los Altos Feeding Clinic 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.
Intensive Feeding Disorders Program
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 Los Altos feeding clinic 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. Within a few days Ben had eliminated Scarlett's gag reflex completely and she was eating close to 2 ounces. Encouraged by the gains we saw in the first week, we started the second week with optimism, only to have her progress slide back and plateau. Luckily, she improved somewhat the last week. Ben told me at one of her first feedings a case like Scarlett he'd like to ideally work with for 6 months. If I lived in Sunnyvale CA, that would certainly be possible, but I didn't and we could only afford three weeks of his program. It would have been easy for Ben to tell us he had done the best he could, he needed more time, etc but his number one goal, which was reflected in everything he did and said, was to ensure feeding times were a managaeable as possible for us as parents. While the whole experience of particating in the program can feel surreal and scary at times, Ben is an exceptionally caring, thoughtful, and considerate individual who takes every available moment to check in with you as parents and support you and your child through the process. Scarlett is a healthy, thriving, 9 month old who JUST landed on the growth chart. While she is still a "fussy" eater and by no means a chubby baby (she is now in the 5th percentile for growth) she does not vomit copious amounts everyday, usually only spits up a few times a week and takes in more calories each day than her brother, thanks to us making a very high calorie food concoction Ben trained us to prepare. Luckily the high powered blender we use to prepare her food also makes sublime margaritas and with Ben's support and feedback on our adventures in feeding our child and her progress, we're making it. Since coming home with her we've seen a decrease in the amount of crying normally associated with mealtimes and we look forward to a future of happy, healthy eating.
Since taking Scarlett to the feeding clinic her entire disposition has changed completely. She used to be an irritable, fussy temperamental baby. She is now a funny, joyous, silly, giggly baby. Scarlett was only 6 months old when we brought her to Ben and we realize our experience isn't typical of many of his clients since our child was so young and we had a limited frame of time (3 weeks intensive to see him). However her progress, despite it's slow pace, has been significant and rewarding and I could not recommend Ben more. His patience, understanding, confidence and compassion is a godsend to parents desperate and out of answers or (like us) getting all the wrong answers.
Day Feeding Disorders Program
Both of my two children received treatment at Los Altos Feeding Clinic. 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.
It took only a few sessions with Ben Zimmerman, to change my daughter’s behavior around meal times. For the first time ever, she eats by herself, finishes her meals in under 20 min., and her weight is on the chart! She has more energy, independence, and self esteem. I wish we met Ben back when Rozanna was a baby. It would have saved us a lot of worries and frustrations, and helped Rozanna grow stronger and happier.
In 2006, my second child was born, and I really hoped he would be a good eater. And he was, but only at nursing. When time came to introduce solids, we had problems with not swallowing food but simply spitting it out, bite after bite. Frequent vomiting was later attributed to reflux and managed with medication, but swallowing problems continued. The weight curve was flat and got further from the curve as time went by. Because my baby was healthy otherwise, the pediatrician referred us to Los Altos Feeding Clinic. Sheldon was 10 months old when we started therapy. I was able to watch the sessions from the waiting room and was impressed by Ben’s patience and ability to find an approach that was just right for my child. In a couple of weeks, my baby was eating from a spoon, and I was soon trained to feed him myself. Within weeks, Sheldon’s weight curved upward, crossed the bottom percentile, and continues to grow at a steady speed.
After achieving stable progress with solids, we’re back at the clinic to learn to drink from a cup. (I guess I missed the “window of opportunity” to introduce a bottle early on, and so Sheldon refuses anything but breast for his liquid intake.) After just 1 week of treatment, there’s no crying or resistance to the cup, the clothes are clean and dry, and I can really see the progress in Sheldon’s acquiring a new skill. Every time he comes out of the treatment room after a session, I see a smile on his face. What a difference a full stomach makes! My kids also enjoy the time before/after sessions when Ben plays with them. He’s a pleasure to know.
I’d like to point out that, unlike most children who experience feeding difficulties, my kids were born healthy full term babies. And if not for the help we got from Ben, they might not grow up to be so healthy and happy. I highly recommend Mr. Ben Zimmerman at Los Altos Feeding Clinic to anyone struggling to feed their child.
Intensive Feeding Disorders Program
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 Los Altos Feeding Clinic. 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 a little when he said this because it sounded too good to be true. I went home that night feeling our family finally had some direction. I knew it would be a hard process but our only choice was to go forward. We started treatment that week, and we called the list of families who went through the program. I enjoyed all the conversations and it was confirmed that each child is different in age, health, and development but all have similar eating problems and most of all, all families felt the same frustration and exhaustion before attending the Los Altos Feeding Clinic.
After 6 weeks, my son is now 40 pounds, and in the 95th percentile for his weight and height. He is eating more than 150 different types of food ranging from tuna, salmon, broccoli, lettuce, steak, mango and even crab claw (which he loves!).
I do not wish any parent to go through their child not eating. It is a draining and emotional process. I am so thankful and forever grateful for Mr. Zimmerman helping our family by teaching my son to eat and as a result helping my son grow in height, weight, and spirit. My son's speech has drastically improved as well as his awareness and reasoning. I feel like my son is more active and alive.
Los Altos Feeding Clinic
2235 Grant Rd. Ste 2
Los Altos, CA 94024
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